A Parent's Guide To Promoting Linguistic Intelligence In Their Child

by Team Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
linguistic intelligence, girl sitting reading a book in pink sweater
Annie Spratt/Unsplash

For new parents, one of the most exciting milestones in your little one’s life is when your baby first starts talking. (Or, more accurately, when their babbling somehow morphs into actual words.) It’s also one of those things that people always ask you about your kid, along with whether they’ve started walking and when they started eating solid foods. Have you ever noticed how telling someone that their toddler is “so verbal” is considered a compliment? Of course, all children develop language skills at their own pace, and if you have a “late talker”, you might wonder whether this will impact their linguistic intelligence later in life. Here’s what you need to know about linguistic intelligence, including what linguistic intelligence tests measure, and what multiple intelligences tests can tell us about how our kids’ brains work.

What is linguistic intelligence?

In short, linguistic intelligence means being “word smart” — or especially skilled at understanding and using both spoken and written language. Linguistic intelligence is one of the distinct intelligences in Dr. Howard Gardner’s multiple-intelligences theory, which looks at intelligence as something made up of eight different categories (the other seven are spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, naturalist, intrapersonal, and interpersonal). According to Gardner, linguistic intelligence “involves the sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals.” If you know someone who has a job that involves a lot of reading or writing, chances are they have linguistic intelligence.

What do linguistic intelligence tests involve?

Because writing and speaking is such a large part of education at every level, if a student of any age is struggling with linguistic intelligence, it may be evident based on their schoolwork. Gardner stressed that linguistic intelligence goes beyond what could be measured in a single test. There are, however, online tests available for both children and adults to help determine their levels of linguistic intelligence. Of course, like any online tests, these should only be used as a starting point, and any concerns about a person’s linguistic intelligence should be discussed with a professional. Another option is to take a multiple intelligences test, which can help identify the areas where you excel, and where you may need some work.

Can you improve it?

It is possible to improve or develop linguistic intelligence through practice and experience reading, writing, and speaking. In an article on ThoughtCo., Melissa Kelly, M.Ed., a secondary school teacher, instructional designer, and the author of “The Everything New Teacher Book: A Survival Guide for the First Year and Beyond” shared a few strategies for teachers who are looking to improve their students’ linguistic intelligence (those these activities can benefit people of all ages). They include:

  • Writing in a journal
  • Writing a group story
  • Learning a few new words each week
  • Creating a magazine or website devoted to something that interests them
  • Writing letters to family, friends, or pen pals
  • Playing word games like crosswords or parts-of-speech bingo
  • Reading books, magazines, newspapers, and even jokes
  • Learn a lot of trivia
  • Play word games like scrabble or crosswords
  • Join a book club
  • Take a workshop or class at a local college
  • Record yourself on a tape recorder and then listen to it
  • Visit the library or bookstore often
  • Subscribe to a high-quality newspaper or magazine
  • Host an informational community event when you have to give a ten-minute presentation
  • Listen to speeches from great orators like Winston Churchill
  • Join a storytime group and read to little kids
  • Try to make up your own riddles and jokes
  • Become a reading or writing tutor for a school or community organization
  • Memorize poetry or passages from books with complex language like William Shakespear plays
  • When reading, make a note of the words you didn’t understand and then look them up.

What are some examples of what this looks like?

People with higher levels of linguistic intelligence tend to gravitate towards careers and activities that involve a lot of reading, writing, and/or speaking. According to Early Childhood News, some common traits in children with emotional intelligence include:

  • Being sensitive to the meaning, order, and sound of words
  • Using varied language
  • Being an avid talker and good speaker
  • Enjoys explaining, convincing, and persuading through words
  • Excels at word games
  • Likes listening to, telling, and reading stories
  • Appreciates rhymes and poetry
  • Having good memory recall for names and dates

What are careers people with linguistic intelligence often choose?

By now, we’ve established that people with strong linguistic intelligence have a way with words. So, it probably won’t surprise you to learn career choices for adults with this kind of intelligence center on that linguistic aptitude. For example, they may gravitate toward jobs as:

  • Critics (book, film, etc.)
  • Journalists/authors
  • Teachers
  • Actors
  • Public speakers
  • Speechwriters
  • Lawyers
  • Broadcasters
  • Advertising copywriters
  • Librarians
  • Speech pathologists
  • Lawyers
  • Politicians

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