Bloom's Taxonomy

This taxonomy classifies levels of "intellective behaviours". It is argued that gifted students should be focussing on the higher-level skills which appear on the scale. (Anderson, K., 2000, p.48). In the course of language learning, students are required to work at several of these levels (which is, perhaps, why learning a foreign language is often seen as a good method of extension for gifted students).

The levels,as follows, are from Lymbery, J., personal communication, October 9, 2009, with my additions in italics, showing where some typical language learning activities fit into the scale. (Note that various versions of the taxonomy use slightly different terminology):

  1. Remember
    To recall, name, define
    Learning vocabulary and grammatical rules
  2. Understand
    To explain or restate more fully
    Getting students to explain grammar/structures, in their own words
    Research projects on a region/element of French life/culture
  3. Apply
    To demonstrate; to put into practice
    Using the target language to read, write, listen or speak
    Being told how to form a tense, and making the examples yourself
  4. Analyse
    To think more deeply; to investigate
    Deducing a grammatical rule from given examples
    Guessing the meaning of a word based on context
    Using your native language to help you to understand a word in the target language
    Using a 'bottom up' approach to listening or reading (ie looking at the meaning of each word before considering how they fit together)
  5. Design
    To create new ideas or perspectives
    In some versions of Bloom's taxonomy (eg Anderson, 2000, p.48), this level is called 'synthesis'. This is required of all language learners, as they must manipulate the individual parts of a sentence, according to the rules which govern the language, and bring them together in order to create a sentence which conveys meaning.
  6. Evaluate
    To determine the quality of the product or process
    Students may be instinctively doing this when making comparisons between the target language and their native language, and the differences in expression.
    When translating, deciding which word best converys your meaning, looking at nuance/connotations
    Justifying opinions which they or other people have expressed

However, I found it more difficult to create specific activities which allowed for the use of these skills.

Especially with junior classes, I found that most of the content of my lessons was focussed on 'remember' and 'apply' style work. At this stage, students have little vocabulary or syntactic knowledge, so they spend a lot of time learning vocabulary and phrases, and practising these. Extra activities which I used with year 10 students encouraged more comparison between their native language and the target language. This takes students up to the 'analyse' (and possibly 'evaluate') level. However, thus far, I have not worked out ways for junior students to actually use the target language for designing or evaluating.

I believe that gifted senior students (particularly Y12 and 13) should be at a stage where they can complete topic-based tasks in which they are required to design or evaluate. See, for example, the ideas for independent study, which could be completed in the target language.

Here are some possible task types for the various levels, taken from Chalmers, A., personal communication, August 7, 2009 (Creating the Thinking Classroom, 2009, ITC Publications Pty Ltd, p.28):

  1. Remember
    List all the...
    What is...?
  2. Understand
    Describe in clear, logical steps...
    Using words, pictures and icons, restate what you know about...
  3. Apply
    Using your knowledge of..., construct...
    Construct a flow chart for...
  4. Analyse
    From at least 4 people's viewpoint, analyse...
    Compare and contrast...
    List the pros and cons of...
  5. Evaluate
    Choose and justify a theme song for...
    Rank the following from... to most...
    Debate the issue....
  6. Create
    Design an improved... for...
    Develop an argument to persuade people...

Links for Bloom's Taxonomy

Extending Children’s Special Abilities – Strategies for primary classrooms
More examples of question starters, with ideas for activities. Although it is made for primary classrooms, I believe these activities would be more suitable for senior language students to do, in the target language. Taken from Dalton, J. & Smith, D. (1986).

Bloom's taxonomy
With examples of verbs for each of the levels of "intellective behaviours".

The Enrichment Triad Model

This was developed, by Renzulli, for use in Primary schools, but has been adapted for secondary. It would be particularly useful for independent study', as I find it more difficult to apply when teaching discrete language items.

It proposes three types of enrichment:

  1. General exploratory activities
    "a wide range of experiences and activities in order to introduce a variety of topics"
    eg media, guest speakers...
    Goes beyond the curriculum so that students can find areas of interest
  2. Group training activities
    To give students the skills they need to carry out investigations, and develop "a range of thinking and feeling processes"
    eg creative-thinking, decision-making, research skills
    As a result, they can "deal more effectively with advanced, differentiated content" (Riley, 1996, p.188)
  3. Individual and small-group investigations of real problems
    Touted as the most suitable for gifted students
    Students investigate real problems
    They 'produce' knowledge
    They are encouraged to "select appropriate audiences" for their final product

The process is cyclical, so students may move backwards and forwards between stages.

Pictorial format showing possible progressions through the stages

While I feel that this model would be hard to apply in the language classroom in general, it would be useful for the independent study suggested. For example, the class could do some research on cultural differences across several areas of everyday life. They could then do some structured comparison in groups. Finally, gifted students could continue with an independent study project (perhaps with a learning contract) either while the class was revising previous concepts, or simply in the spare time which they have during class, when they have completed their work.

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences (1983)

As Neisser et al. (1996, as cited in McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p.72) state: "A given person's intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria" (my emphasis).

The multiple intelligences proposed by Gardner (in McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p.72) are as follows, with my additions of language-related skills in italics:
  • logical mathematical
    umbers, reasoning and problem solving
    picking patterns in the way in which language is used and creating rules; using context to judge which are appropriate solutions (eg in listening or reading)
  • linguistic
    anguage, arts, speaking, writing, reading and listening
    speaks for itself!
  • musical
    songs, rhythms, instruments and musical expression
    sensitivity to pronunciation, intonation, word stress
  • spatial
    learning visually, organising things spatially
  • bodily kinaesthetic
    physical activity
  • interpersonal
    responding to the emotional state of others and being people-oriented
    reading body language in conversation (communicative competence)
  • intrapersonal
    understanding and monitoring one's own emotional and physical states
    when adapting to new cultural situations
  • naturalist
    understanding and relating to the plant and animal worlds
  • existentialist
    reflective thought and philosophising
    study Sartre?!

For an example of a task which incorporates several of these intelligences, see the choice grid.


Anderson, K. (2000). Gifted and Talented Students: Meeting Their Needs in New Zealand Schools. Wellington: Learning Media.

McInerney, D. & McInerney, V. (2006). Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. New South Wales: Pearson Prentice Hall.