If, instead, the Alphabet is linked up with spoken language, the process becomes that of simply translating one’s own language into graphic signs. Then, it is always connected with words that have a meaning for the mind and the progress of writing takes place by natural attraction.

Maria Montessori

Introduction to Language

When the child comes to the Montessori environment, the child already has the foundation of language. Our work is to help the child expand and perfect his/her language in the next 3-4 years. The Montessori approach to Language, as it is with other areas, is a global approach that engages the child’s spirit, mind and body.

The most important foundation to reading and writing is the child’s own oral language. The moment the child steps into our environment, the Montessori guide focuses on the child’s oral language. There are many materials in our Montessori environment that will help the child increase and enrich his/her vocabulary so that the child can express and communicate better. The Montessori guide does a lot of naming when the child comes into the environment. With Practical Life, she gives the names of the objects in the environment. With Sensorial, she gives precise terminology for abstract ideas. She gives it to the child so that the child can clarify his/her ideas and use language precisely. All the activities in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas build upon the child’s experiences and knowledge- layer by layer- and prepare the child for this subsequent stage.

The Montessori guide helps the child to be aware of the sounds that make up the word. Where before the child was unconscious in the way he/she communicated, the child now becomes conscious that words can be broken down into sounds and sounds represented by symbols. When the child becomes familiar with the symbols and sounds the letters represent, the child realises that thoughts can be expressed into symbols and transmitted to others. Thus, the child is able to communicate his/her thoughts through symbols which represent sounds and read the thoughts of others in the same way. The child is also offered various activities to practice writing the symbols.

The child progresses from forming and reading phonetic words, to double phonogram words, to sight words, to simple phrases and finally to simple sentences. The Montessori approach is to help the child to achieve total reading. With total reading, the child not only is able to read fluently, but understands what he/she has read and appreciates the style of the author!

With the Language activities, the child is able to extend his/her vocabulary and explore language. The child is read many stories and is also given the opportunity to read to the younger children. These activities help the child to appreciate language.