Language is a system of symbols with an agreed upon meaning that is used by a group of people. Language is a means of communication ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized sounds and signs, thus, being the spoken and written language.
The History of Language
It is a human tendency to communicate with others and this could underlie the emergence of language. Montessori said, “To talk is in the nature of man.” Humans needed language in order to communicate, and soon, the powers that come with language were revealed. The evolution of the human language began when communication was done through pictograms or pictures and drawings.
It then developed into ideograms when pictures began to turn into symbols. Later, these symbols became words, words involved letters, vowels emerged, one symbol came to represent one sound, an alphabet was created, and then came the alphabet we now use today. And just as language evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago, it also changes with each generation. Unneeded words are dropped and new words come into use. Language rose and continues to rise with the collective intelligence.
The Language Development of the Child
When the child arrives in the Montessori classroom, he has fully absorbed his culture’s language. He has already constructed the spoken language and with his entry into the classroom, he will begin to consolidate the spoken language and begin to explore the written forms of language.
Because language is an intrical involvement in the process of thinking, the child will need to be spoken to and listened to often. The child will need a broad exposure to language, with correct articulation, enunciation, and punctuation. The child will need to experience different modes of language and to hear and tell stories. Most importantly, the child needs to feel free and be encouraged to communicate with others.
With the child’s absorbent mind the child by age six will have reached the 3rd point of consciousness in language where he understands that sounds and words have meaning and that these symbols can be used in writing. He will become fully articulate, he will be able to express himself in writing, he will be able to read with ease, and have a full comprehension of the thoughts of others.
The Prepared Environment
To help the child in his development in language, the Montessori classroom is designed to help the child reach the 3rd period of consciousness. Because the learning of language is not done through subjects as in a normal classroom, the child is learning at his own rhythm. This allows the child to concentrate on the learning of each important step in language so that each progressive step is done easily and without any thought on the part of the child. The special material also plays an important role in aiding the child develop the powers of communication and expression, of organization and classification, and the development of thought.
But the most important tool in the child’s learning of language lies within the directress. She must support the child in his learning, give him order to classify what he has learned, to help the child build self-confidence, and to provide the child with meaningful activities. The directress is the child’s best source in language development.
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