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Psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, which directly challenged earlier and still used methods of determining individual intelligence, established nine types of intelligence, one of which is “linguistic intelligences. As discussed in his book Frames of Mind, Gardner defines “linguistic intelligence” as
“the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language. Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers. Young adults with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.” [Quote is actually from Gardner’s “Overview of the Multiple Intelligences Theory}
In terms of how Gardner’s “linguistic intelligence” can help one to attain one’s goals, the answer lies in what Gardner meant by his inclusion of communication skills and appreciation of words and language in his discussion of Multiple Intelligences. There is a reason many solicitations for job applications include the requirement for “excellent oral and written communication skills.” Individuals who are well-read and articulate are better able to present themselves both to prospective employers and to the public in which those employers are interested. While Gardner specifies certain professions with which he identifies linguistic intelligence, that particular form of intelligence is crucial in many more professions than those to which he refers. Sales, for instance, require an appreciation for oral communication skills, and the higher the quotient of “linguistic intelligence” possessed by a teacher or professor, the better he or she is at educating students.
Linguistic intelligence is not vital in the pursuit of all goals. Jobs that are less dependent upon oral or written communications, for example, require lower levels of that category of intelligence. Not being skilled in the use of language does not guarantee failure at most professions. Depending upon one’s personal interests and goals, however, it can be very important.
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