Linguistic Intelligence: What to Know & How to Develop It

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Tatiana Azman
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Woman reading a book to develop her linguistic intelligence
Table of Contents
Summary: Have you heard of linguistic intelligence? Explore the fascinating connection between language and intelligence and unleash your innate linguistic abilities.
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Picture this: You’re engaged in a lively discussion (be it among friends, colleagues, or even strangers—that’s a whole other topic). Ideas are flying around, and every single person’s contribution seems to captivate the room. 

Meanwhile, you struggle to find the right words. You’re stumbling over sentences. And the feeling is frustrating.

Those awkward moments? They’re your linguistic struggles in all their glory. And working on your linguistic intelligence will get you all wordsmith-y in no time.

If knowledge is power, learning is your superpower.” Wise words coming from the Superbrain man himself, Jim Kwik. (But if there’s anyone better to take advice from, it’s a renowned brain performance coach.)

So feel lost for words no more. Let’s get to unleashing your verbal prowess.

What Is Verbal Linguistic Intelligence?

Linguistic intelligence, also known as verbal intelligence, encompasses the artistry of words. It’s one of the nine types of intelligence based on a theory by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner.

However, when it comes down to the “linguistic intelligence” definition in psychology, it’s this:

Involves the sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals.” 

Those blessed with linguistic prowess find solace in reading and writing. What’s more, they possess an uncanny aptitude for wordplay, effortlessly deciphering puzzles and embracing the melodies of foreign languages.

The true power of this gift shines brightest in careers that celebrate the written and spoken word. 

From the ink-stained pens of journalists to the captivating performances of actors, linguistic virtuosos leave their mark. They find their calling as authors, teachers, broadcasters, copy editors, and even silver-tongued advocates in the world of law.

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences

There are many theories of intelligence; Howard Gardner’s theory is one of them. He suggests that intelligence is not limited to a single measure, such as IQ. Rather, it encompasses a diverse range of abilities. 

According to Gardner, there are nine distinct types of intelligence. And each represents different cognitive strengths and ways of processing information. 

These forms of intelligence include:

  1. Linguistic intelligence (verbal finesse),
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (analytical thinking),
  3. Spatial intelligence (visual and spatial perception),
  4. Musical intelligence (musical aptitude),
  5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (physical coordination and dexterity),
  6. Interpersonal intelligence (social understanding),
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence (self-awareness and introspection),
  8. Naturalistic intelligence (nature-related skills), and
  9. Existential intelligence (philosophical and existential contemplation).

As opposed to the old-school view of intelligence, this theory invites us to embrace the kaleidoscope of human abilities. Instead of fitting everyone into a one-size-fits-all mold, it encourages us to recognize and nourish the distinctive gifts and talents that reside within each of us.

Thanks to Gardner, this theory allows us to celebrate the vibrant tapestry of intelligence. And what’s more, it honors the richness and limitless potential of our wonderfully unique minds. 

A group of friends speaking in a foreign language as a way to practice their linguistic intelligence

What Does It Mean to Be a Linguistic Learner?

As a linguistic learner, you possess remarkable abilities. And what are they? Here’s a list:

  • You absorb information most effectively when it’s presented to you through the power of words. Whether it’s a well-written blog post or the melodious narration of an audiobook, you’re captivated. And the world of language becomes your playground of knowledge. 
  • You have a natural talent for understanding the nuances of language. You can easily grasp the meanings and concepts embedded within the written text.
  • You learn better through written and spoken word. Engaging in meaningful conversations, analyzing complex texts, and participating in reflective writing are the best ways for you to foster your intellectual growth. And as you do that, you find your greatest opportunities for learning, reflection, and personal development.

Research shows that those with linguistic verbal intelligence have a variety of ways to make learning easier and more successful. One study found that they find alternative ways to overcome difficulties, think about how they learn, and manage their emotions. Additionally, they also use strategies like organizing information, working with others, and improving their memory.

So, if you’ve ever found solace in the pages of a book or discovered joy in the sonorous rhythms of spoken language, embrace your linguistic learner identity.

Linguistic Intelligence Examples

Linguistic intelligence shines through in various fascinating ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Masterful crossword puzzle solvers
  • Expressive poets who touch hearts with their words
  • Charismatic storytellers who captivate audiences
  • Skilled translators bridge language barriers effortlessly
  • Quick language learners adapt to new tongues with ease
  • Adaptable writers excel in various writing styles
  • Proficient journalists, teachers, actors, or public speakers

These examples merely scratch the surface of the immense potential of linguistic intelligence.

Famous people with linguistic intelligence

You may have a list in your head because there’s no shortage of people with this innate skill. The rapper Twista, for example, is a famous person with linguistic intelligence.

Here are a few more famous people you may have heard of:

  • William Shakespeare
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Maya Angelou
  • Natalie Portman
  • Roald Dahl
  • Tom Hiddleston
  • J.K. Rowling
  • James Franco

Because they work well with words, many choose to pursue linguistic intelligence careers that let them exercise their creative side. And without a doubt, they have made such a profound artistic impact on the world.

5 Benefits of Improving Linguistic Intelligence

Language lies at the core of human connection. And the magic of linguistic brilliance goes way beyond the mere words on a page.

When you nurture your linguistic intelligence, you unlock a treasure trove of benefits that can positively influence different aspects of your life. And here are the main ones:

  1. Enhanced communication skills. You’re able to articulate thoughts, ideas, and emotions with precision and clarity. You also become adept at choosing the right words, using persuasive language, and capturing the attention of your listeners or readers.
  1. Heightened empathy and emotional intelligence. You’re better at understanding and navigating the subtleties of human expression. This allows you to empathize with others on a deeper level.
  1. Broadened world views and appreciation of different cultures. Languages allow you to connect with people from different backgrounds. It allows you to appreciate their traditions, customs, and values. 
  1. Sharpened cognitive abilities. As you improve your linguistic skills, you also enhance your cognitive functions, which include memory, problem-solving, and analytical intelligence. You’re able to think critically, make connections between ideas, and look at challenges from different perspectives.
  1. Personal and professional growth. This type of intelligence equips you with valuable skills that are highly sought-after in a wide range of careers. These include writing, editing, public speaking, teaching, and diplomacy. Moreover, it empowers you to be true to yourself and pursue activities that bring you fulfillment and align with your dreams.

Whether you want to speak with grace, learn more about the world, or make meaningful connections with others, developing linguistic intelligence can make a world of difference. It has the power to change your life by opening doors and helping you grow as a person.

Jim Kwik, brain performance expert and trainer of Mindvalley's Superbrain Quest
Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

How to Improve Linguistic Intelligence: 6 Insights from Jim Kwik

Don’t be fooled—everyone has linguistic intelligence, even you. And if you’d like to supercharge your inner wordsmith, we’ve got six strategies that can help you “BE FAST.”

What’s that, you ask? It’s Jim’s acronym for the six keys to “learn any subject of skill faster.”

And what do they stand for? Here’s a closer look:

1. Believe

There’s no denying that the power of belief is important. Because when you truly believe in yourself, you ignite a spark of confidence and positivity that can propel you forward.

That’s backed up by science, too. In fact, a 2011 study suggests that our personality traits can influence how happy and satisfied we feel in life. It found that traits like being anxious or outgoing, being open-minded, and being organized can impact our happiness and satisfaction through our belief in our own abilities.

By embracing the magic of self-belief, you tap into an infinite well of motivation and resilience. What’s more, you become the protagonist of your own learning story with the unwavering confidence to learn, grow, and achieve extraordinary things.

Insight from Jim Kwik: All behavior is driven by belief. So before we address how to learn, we must first address the underlying beliefs we hold about what is possible.”

2. Exercise

Exercise may be good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain.

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that boost your mood and overall well-being. These endorphins have a positive impact on your brain function, helping you improve your focus, concentration, and mental sharpness. 

So by incorporating exercise into your routine, you enhance your cognitive abilities and create an optimal state for learning. 

Insight from Jim Kwik: One of the best ways to change your state is by moving your body, right? Because as your body moves, your brain grooves… You create more neurogenesis [and] neuroplasticity.”

3. Forget

This is about intentionally setting aside what you think you know so you can create space for new insights and revelations.

Relearning allows you to uncover hidden gems and gain a deeper understanding of the subject. It opens the door to fresh perspectives, alternative approaches, and novel connections that you may have missed before. 

It will challenge your existing beliefs, for sure. However, through the act of forgetting, you pave the way for transformative learning experiences.

Insight from Jim Kwik: A lot of people don’t learn because they haven’t emptied their cup… So you want to forget about anything else than what you’re learning here.”

4. Active

Learning is not a passive endeavor; it is a dynamic and immersive experience that demands active participation. Embrace the role of an active learner by taking proactive steps to enhance your understanding and retention. 

So instead of being a passive observer, become an enthusiastic participant in your own learning process. Take diligent notes, ask thought-provoking questions, and actively seek clarification when needed. 

By actively engaging with the material, you deepen your comprehension, foster critical thinking skills, and forge meaningful connections between concepts. 

Insight from Jim Kwik: The human brain and the mind don’t learn by consuming information; they learn by creating. And from creating it, your mind doesn’t learn based on consumption; it learns through creation or co-creation.”

5. State

All learning is state-dependent,” explains Jim in a video on Mindvalley Talks. And just as certain songs can evoke vivid memories of people or places, the emotional context of your experiences influences how well you remember and retain information. 

When you combine information with strong emotions, it creates a powerful imprint in your long-term memory. So recognize that learning is not solely about acquiring knowledge but also about creating meaningful connections and associations. 

You can cultivate a positive and focused state of mind. And when you do, you enhance your ability to absorb and recall information.

Insight from Jim Kwik: How many people use reading as a sedative? Like you have this token book that’s been inside your bed for an embarrassingly long period of time? 

But if your state that you have associated with this activity called ‘reading’ is falling asleep or a zero—anything times zero is zero. And people wonder why they don’t remember what they read. So control your state.”

6. Teach

Teaching is a huge part of verbal intelligence. It not only benefits the person you are sharing knowledge with but also enhances your own learning experience. Here’s how:

When you explain complex concepts in simple terms to someone else, it requires you to break down the information into its core elements and communicate them effectively. And what this does is solidify your own understanding and mastery of the subject. 

Insight from Jim Kwik: “When you teach something, you get to learn it twice.”

Master the Power of Words

Unleashing the potential of linguistic intelligence opens doors to a world where words become a symphony. What can it do? It’ll enable you to communicate with precision and charm, that’s what! 

It’s a gift that ignites a lifelong passion for the art of expression. What’s more, it empowers you to forge connections that resonate deep within the human soul.

But as Jim Kwik says in his Superbrain Quest on Mindvalley, “None of it works unless YOU work.” So if you want to up your brain game, this program is what you need.

When you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you get access to the first few lessons of the Quest. And with that, you can get a glimpse of the infinite potential your brain can unleash.

Take it from the “boy with the broken brain,” a.k.a. Jim Kwik. These hacks and techniques are what he used to prime his brain for optimum performance.

We have to do our part,” he says. “If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.”

And if he can power up his brain, so can you.


Images generated on Midjourney except for the one of the Mindvalley trainer.

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Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is an SEO content writer for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is an SEO content writer for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. With a background in spa and wellness as well as having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Jim Kwik - Trainer
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Jim Kwik is the trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain and Super Reading quests. He’s a brain coach and a world expert in speed reading, memory improvement, and optimal brain performance. Known as the “boy with the broken brain” due to a childhood injury, Jim discovered strategies to dramatically enhance his mental performance. He is now committed to helping people improve their memory, learn to speed-read, increase their decision-making skills, and turn on their superbrain. He has shared his techniques with Hollywood actors, Fortune 500 companies, and trailblazing entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson to reach their highest level of mental performance. He is also one of the most sought-after trainers for top organizations like Harvard University, Nike, Virgin, and GE.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.