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An Evaluation of the English Language Textbook Series Touchstone for Preparatory Year Students in terms of the Multiple Intelligences Theory.

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An Evaluation of the English Language Textbook Series Touchstone for Preparatory Year Students in terms of the Multiple Intelligences Theory.
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  1    An Evaluation of the English Language Textbook Series "Touchstone" for Saudi University Students in terms of the Multiple Intelligences Theory Dr. Ali. A. Koura Dr. Antar S. Abdellah Professor of TEFL Associate Professor of TEFL Taibah University Taibah University Dr. Ahmad M. Zafer Assistant Professor of TEFL Taibah University Abstract This study tried to investigate the degree to which Touchstone  caters for Preparatory year Saudi students’ preferences of multiple intelligences. Students’ preferences were received through a questionnaire for male and female students in the three different academic tracks: applied, medical and humanities. Student  s’ MI inventory ranked the linguistic intelligence at the top and the musical intelligence at the bottom. About 600 activities were analyzed from the course books to see what types of intelligence they address. Likewise, activities showed that the linguistic was the top and musical was the bottom. Nevertheless, between these two, many discrepancies exist. Introduction: In the age of Information and Technology (IT), the world has become a small village. People all over the world strive to communicate and interact to make this world a better place to live in. Language – and especially English –  stands as the one most important medium of communication. The mastery of English language has become priority for all people who want to benefit by most of the publications and software produced in English. Educational systems around the world do their best to help their students learn and communicate in English. In this process they try all promising theories, approaches, and techniques that might help them do so. The theory of multiple intelligences ( introduced by Gardner and associates in 1983 ), has lately been relied on in enabling students at all school levels to improve their learning.  2   As a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, Howard Gardner is not the first to recognize multiple brain abilities; however, Gardner is the first to acknowledge diverse competencies as forms of human intelligence and point out that the concept of intelligent behavior varies from culture to culture. He has put forth the Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory to define human intellect through a spectrum of content areas including verbal –  linguistic, mathematical –  logical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, visual –  spatial, bodily –  kinesthetic, musical –  rhythmic and naturalistic intelligences (Gardner  1983 –  1993 ). In the past, intelligence was considered a fixed, static entity defined as the ability to answer IQ tests. Ever since the publication of his Frames of Mind   (1983), Gardner has postulated an alternative definition of intelligence in a radically different way. An intelligence, according to Gardner, entails the ability to solve problems or fashion products, that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community (Gardner  ,  1993: 15). There are many different, but autonomous intelligence capacities that result in many different ways of knowing, understanding, and learning about the world. Each student is a unique individual with unique learning needs. These unique needs are linked to the student's intelligences according to the theory presented by Gardner. A student will learn best when taught through his or her personal and specific intelligences because it is the way that s/he learns best. If it is possible to identify a student's strengths, then the result can very likely be an increase in achievement. Gardner identifies eight specific intelligences: Verbal –  Linguistic (VL) , Logical –  Mathematical (LM), Visual –  Spatial (VS), Musical (M), Bodily –  Kinesthetic (BK), Interpersonal (IR), Intrapersonal (IA) and Naturalistic (N) Intelligences. Every student has different strengths and weakness in these areas. The assumption of the researchers is that if students are taught through all of the multiple intelligences, their learning would be enhanced. A brief description of the eight intelligences is given below:  3   Linguistic intelligence:     This involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence. Logical-mathematical intelligence:   This consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Howard Gardner's words, in entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking. Musical intelligence:   This involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. According to Gardner, musical intelligence runs in an almost structural parallel to linguistic intelligence. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence :   This entails the potential of using one's whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements. Howard Gardner sees mental and Bodily Kinesthetic activity as related. Spatial intelligence:   This involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.  4   Interpersonal intelligence:   This is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counselors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence:   This entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one's feelings, fears and motivations. In Howard Gardner's view it involves having an effective working model of ourselves, and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives. The MI theory is discussed in much of the current literature. The implementation of MI strategies has sparked considerable research. Many teachers, schools, textbook units, and assessment specialists have embraced these strategies (El-Embaby, 2008; Koura, 2005; Olson and Land,2007; Wang, 2005  ). As we view the students in our classroom, accroding to Geimer, et al  (  2000), we know that students learn in a variety of ways. Upon analysis of the research of Howard Gardner's theory we have found many aspects where it has been implemented with success. One of the most successful implementations of the MI theory is in the Indianapolis key school. This school redesigned their programs to match Gardner's theory. By using the new curriculum, activities were structured based on multiple intelligences and basic skills. Within a week, students would spend equal time completing activities in each of these areas. Since the start of this approach, the school has been one of the most successful on the Indian test of educational progress. ( Chapman, 1993: 17- in Geimer et al,  2000 : 25  ). Once Gardner defines his concept of intelligence, he raises four points: 1- All of the intelligences are evident in each person 2- Each intelligence is adequately developed in most people 3- All of the intelligences must work together  5   4- Within each intelligence, there are many degrees to which a person can exhibit that intelligence. (Carlson, 1999   ). Several studies have investigated the importance of multiple intelligences in EFL / ESL classrooms according to Gardner (1987: I) that "it is of the most importance that we recognize and nurture all of the combinations of intelligences. We are all so different largely, because we all have different combinations of intelligences. If we recognize this, we think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world ”. According to Alien (2003), students learn in many ways, and teachers must know how their students learn in order to make learning experiences motivating and challenging. Effective teachers know that students' learning is improved when their intelligence powers, interests, talents, and needs are taken into account. Teachers must make learning relevant to all students; when effective teachers provide students with activities that are fun and meaningful, students are able to use their higher order thinking skills of multiple intelligences. Christison (1998) added that by using multiple intelligences in TEFL teacher education programs, EFL teachers are expected to know about methods, testing, theory, teaching grammar, writing, reading, speaking and listening. Most teacher education programs include courses in all of these subject areas. Teacher education programs are also expected to keep track with the new advancements in the field by introducing teachers to the newest and most creative ideas in second language. The current study sought to evaluate the preparatory year English series " Touchstone " in terms of the MI theory in order to determine which of this textbook's topics, activities, and exercises cater for students ' MIs. In this process, students intelligences were profiled, textbook, topics activities, and exercises were analyzed, evaluated and suggestions for modifying this EFL series of textbooks in line with MI theory were presented.  

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