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Advancing Emotional Intelligence in Older Students with Language Disorders

Advancing Emotional Intelligence in Older Students with Language Disorders
Vicki Larson
July 14, 2008


Drawing from the work of Goleman (1995, 1998, 2006), it is evident that the concept of human intelligence shared by speech-language pathologists, educators, and our colleagues has been far too narrow. For years, we have used intelligence quotients (IQs), as measured by standardized tests, to project how well someone will do in life. Goleman (1995, 1998) argues that this restricted definition of intelligence ignores a crucial range of abilities he refers to as emotional intelligence. This article will focus on emotional intelligence, the five dimensions in which Goleman classifies emotional intelligence, and 25 competencies within the dimensions. (A future article will focus on the relationship of emotional intelligence to social intelligence.).

Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills (Goleman, 1998). Goleman (1995) notes that "At best, IQ contributes about 20 percent to the factors that determine life success, which leaves 80 percent to other forces" (p. 34). The greatest percentage of those other forces is emotional intelligence, which can be taught. According to Goleman (1995), psychologists have demonstrated that "interventions designed to target the specific deficits in emotional and social skills or depression can be highly effective as buffers for children" (p. 262). Given that emotional intelligence can be learned or taught; and that it is a predictor of being successful; in school, in the community, and at home; it is imperative that professionals who work with older students who have language disorders be aware of the dimensions of emotional intelligence and how best to enhance the dimensions in students with language disorders.

Goleman (1998) defines emotional competence as "a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance" (p. 24). Emotional intelligence determines one's potential for learning the emotional competencies that are necessary for being successful at school, at home, and in the community. Just because students have high emotional intelligence does not guarantee that they will use the emotional competencies; they simply have the potential to do so. Goleman states that emotional intelligence capacities build on one anotherthat is they are hierarchical. He emphasizes that "self-awareness is crucial for self-regulation and empathy, self-regulation and self-awareness contribute to motivation; [and] all the first four are at work in social skills" (pp. 27-28).

Using Goleman's (1998) analysis, assessment and intervention ideas for the 5 dimensions of emotional intelligence and the 25 emotional competencies are discussed in the following sections. The 25 competencies are those needed to succeed in education, at home, in the community, and in the workplace. The most effective ways to assess and teach these emotional competencies to older students with language disorders is the focus of the discussion. General procedures to use when developing the competencies are provided first followed by more specific activities and questions for developing competencies within the 5 dimensions.

General Procedures

Development of emotional intelligence can be achieved by addressing the 25 competencies within the context of other assessment and intervention activities or by focusing directly on the competencies through structured activities and discussions. In the activities that follow, students are asked to think about a series of questions. Be prepared to give students ample time to think after asking a question, then coach students through appropriate responses. A variety of procedures can be used to assist students as they participate in these activities including prompting, cuing, modeling, scaffolding, scripting, story telling and retelling, dramatization (Lewkowicz, 1999), role-playing, and using visual graphic organizers to illustrate concepts.

vicki larson

Vicki Larson

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