Verbal intelligence is one of Howard Gardner’s nine multiple intelligences (PDF). A simple linguistic intelligence definition is well-developed verbal and written skills with sensitivity to the rhythm and sounds of words. Verbal intelligence shows up both in the written and the spoken word. Writers, public speakers, and even teachers tend to possess strong levels of this form of intelligence. While almost everyone has some of this type of intelligence, some appear to be more gifted than others at using words in a powerful way.

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Understanding the Basic Linguistic Intelligence Definition

The most basic linguistic intelligence definition is the ability to think words and use those words to express one’s thoughts to others. When people use conversation to speak to one another, they utilize their verbal/linguistic intelligence. Verbal intelligence is also employed when writers create written works, even something as simple as a letter to a friend or an email. In school, this intelligence is vital to good school performance, as most subjects require reading and writing skills. A verbal intelligence test and linguistic intelligence activities all work to identify how well an individual can do this, and then to improve upon it if necessary.

Verbal Intelligence in the Brain

Verbal/linguistic intelligence and the capacity to use words to communicate is a skill that comes from the temporal cortex on the left side of the brain. This area has been named Broca’s Area (PDF). It has four areas of sensitivity. Semantics, the first of these, is the various meanings and shades of meanings in words. Phonology is the sounds and meter of words. Syntax involves the order words are used. Finally, praxis is the different ways words can be used in a sentence or culturally to invoke different meanings. Combined, these four sensitivities impact an individual’s ability to speak, write, and understand words.

People with strong linguistic intelligence are attracted to words. They learn well with mnemonic devices, and they enjoy reading. They may score high on standard achievement tests because of the large amount of reading on these tests. These are the children who are bookworms, the people who enjoy creating rhymes when studying for tests, and the students who find writing papers an engaging activity, not a dreaded one.

Potential Careers for Individuals Strong in Linguistic Intelligence

Verbal intelligence opens the door to several careers for those who are gifted in this area. These students grow up to become writers, such as novelists or journalists. Some become storytellers or orators. Others will become teachers or politicians. Any career that requires a good handle of written and spoken language will work well for someone with strong verbal/linguistic intelligence.

Linguistic Intelligence Activities to Boost Linguistic Skill

While everyone is born with a measure of linguistic intelligence, it can also be developed through the careful use of linguistic intelligence activities. Word games of all types can help improve this intelligence. Young children can play alphabet and spelling games, while older students can play games that require them to use words, whether written or spoken, to describe things. Students can draw a picture and then write a story to describe what they drew to practice linguistic skills. Debates and discussions in a group setting are also linguistic intelligence activities that can boost these skills for some people. Even simple poetry reading and writing activities can help develop linguistic intelligence.

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Testing Linguistic/Verbal Intelligence

A verbal intelligence test helps individuals determine how much of this type of intelligence they have. While these tests are not foolproof, they can help individuals determine their strengths and maximize them. Verbal intelligence is one of the two types of intelligence commonly tested in schools through written testing; because of this, most people who have high levels of this form of intelligence perform well on standardized and written IQ tests. Yet, a standard achievement test or IQ test is not specifically a verbal intelligence test. Testing for verbal intelligence specifically requires the skill of someone who understands the nine types of intelligence and can test individually for each of them.

Verbal intelligence is the most widely shared intelligence. It helps people connect and communicate with one another, thus helping improve interpersonal relationships; because of this, improving verbal/linguistic intelligence is beneficial to all people, whether they have strong levels or weak levels of this form of intelligence. That is what makes linguistic intelligence activities so valuable.