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8 Smarts in ELT Materials
by Beril Ayman Yücel
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Materials design is an on-going process and requires a great deal of effort, time and training. While designing materials, teachers should consider whether

  • the aims of the material are clear to the learners
  • the material is relevant to the needs/interests/ level of the learners
  • the material meets the course objectives
  • the topic/content of the material is interesting for the learners
  • the learners can relate to the topic through their own experiences, interests and cultural knowledge
  • the material includes sufficient number of activities
  • there is a variety of activities in the material
  • the activities in the material provide enough practice to develop certain skills
  • the activities encourage personal involvement of the learners in the learning process
  • there is a logical progression between the activities
  • it is easy for the students to follow the material
  • the texts, exercises and visuals are clearly presented
  • the layout of the material is easy to follow
  • the layout is attractive and appealing
  • the material is at the right level of difficulty

Teachers should always be aware of the fact that piloting plays quite a significant role in the production of quality materials. Feedback about materials should be received continuously from the learners and other colleagues and materials should be improved in the light of this feedback.

Another main point that should be kept in mind is that it would be quite beneficial and practical for the teachers to use some kind of checklist or set of criteria when designing materials.


After introducing the characteristics of the eight intelligences and discussing the crucial points in materials design, it would be a good idea to share the chart on the next page which includes the eight intelligences and some questions designed according to their main characteristics. It would be helpful for teachers to use this as a checklist to see how they can integrate the intelligences into their materials.


  • What kinds of critical thinking or problem-solving activities can I integrate into my material?
  • Would it be possible to put some puzzles, charts, mind maps into the material? How?
  • What kind of visual aids (pictures, OHTs, word flashcards,etc), visualisation and colour can I use?
  • Where can I locate these visuals on my material?
  • What kind of music, songs, environmental sounds, rythmical patterns can I use?
  • At what stage of the material can music/songs or poetry be used?
  • What kind of stories, poems, short plays, word games, lectures, etc can I use?
  • How can I include note-taking and presentation skills in my material?
  • What kind of role-play cards, puzzle cards can I prepare?
  • What kind of hands-on materials can I prepare?
  • What kind of category charts and diagrams can I use?
  • How can I encourage students to describe or observe the environment and relate it to the subject in my material?
  • What kind of pair work/ group work activities can I integrate into my material?
  • What kind of peer sharing or co-operative learning materials can I use?
  • What kind of activities can I cover in my material which would evoke personal feelings or values?
  • Would it be possible to put a journal component in my material?

Teachers have to help learners use the combination of their intelligences to be successful in school and in life. They should support them to use their intelligences in the most efficient way. There is not only one way to learn how to read or how to write. It would not be wise to say that everything should be taught in eight ways. Equally, it would be meaningless to say that all intelligences can be covered in one specific piece of material. That is not the point of the Multiple Intelligences Theory. The theory should be applied gradually.


In conclusion, it can be said that teachers have to be extraordinarily imaginative, creative and persistent in helping students understand things better and make learning meaningful. The teacher's role is to encourage learners to use their minds well, and this can be achieved by careful planning and effective materials design.


Campbell, L. , Campbell,B. & Dickinson, D. (1996). Teaching & Learning Through Multiple Intelligences. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.


Beril Ayman Yücel works as the Head of Teacher Training and Development Unit at the English Language Department of Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey. She has a BA in ELT and holds an MSc in Educational Sciences from Middle East Technical University, Ankara. Her most recent work with Meral Güçeri is on Action Research and was published in May 2002. Her professional interests are materials design, teacher education, research and educational administration.

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