Understanding the Verbal Linguistic Learning Style

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Verbal-linguistic learning style, or intelligence, is one of eight types of learning styles defined in Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner's theory, developed during the 1960s, helps teachers, trainers, and employers adjust their teaching styles to fit the needs of different learners.

Verbal-linguistic learning style refers to a person's ability to reason, solve problems, and learn using language. Because so much of the school curriculum is taught verbally, verbal-linguistic learners tend to do well in school. They may also excel in typical university settings. It is important to bear in mind, however, that verbal-linguistic ability is not a synonym for intelligence.


Verbal-linguistically talented people flourish in school activities such as reading and writing. They express themselves well and are usually good listeners with a well-developed memory for the material they've read and strong recall of spoken information.

Language fascinates people with verbal-linguistic learning styles, and they enjoy learning new words and exploring ways to creatively use language, as in poetry. They may enjoy learning new languages, memorizing tongue twisters, playing word games, and reading.

Verbal-linguistic learners are often good at tests that build on the ability to quickly and accurately respond to spoken or written instructions. This makes it easier for such learners to excel on standardized exams, IQ tests, and quizzes. It's important to remember, however, that language-based tests measure only one form of intelligence.

How These Learners Learn Best

People with verbal-linguistic learning styles learn best when taught using spoken or written materials. They prefer activities that are based on language reasoning rather than abstract visual information. Math word problems are more appealing to verbal-linguistic learners than solving equations. They usually enjoy written projects, speech and drama classes, debate, language classes, and journalism.

Verbal-linguistic learners may have a harder time with hand-eye coordination or visual-spatial tasks. They may also find it difficult to interpret a visual presentation of information. For example, it may be harder for verbal-linguistic learners to read a chart, interpret a graph, or understand a mind-map.

Best Learning Activities
  • Verbal lessons

  • Reading materials

  • Math story problems

  • Written projects

  • Presentation projects

Less Successful Learning Activities
  • Abstract visuals such as charts or graphs

  • Pure math problems

  • Hands-on projects with minimal verbal or written instructions

  • Projects relying on hand-eye coordination

Recognize Verbal-Linguistic Learners

Verbal-linguistic learners enjoy language and are thus likely to enjoy games that involve wordplay. They are often attracted to puns, language-based jokes, and games like Boggle or Scrabble. They tend to be voracious readers and, in many cases, prolific writers.

Some verbal-linguistic learners can become so intrigued by proper language use that they may correct others' grammatical mistakes or point out the misuse of words or language. Some verbal-linguistic learners find it easy to learn other languages, though they may not be able to fully explain grammatical rules.

Career Choices

Verbal-linguistic learning style students with high levels of verbal intelligence often seek careers such as teaching English, language arts, drama, and debate at k-12 or postsecondary institutions. They frequently choose careers such as professional writer, news correspondent, poet, creative writer, attorney, publicist, advertising agent, psychologist, speech pathologist, and editorial positions.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sener S, Cokcaliskan A. An investigation between multiple intelligences and learning styles. J Educ Train Stud. 2018;6(2). doi:10.11114/jets.v6i2.2643

  2. Scholastic. Adapting instruction to multiple intelligences.

  3. Scholastic. Checklist: Learning activities that connect with multiple intelligences.

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.