Language is a mean of communication, delivering ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized sounds and signs, thus, being the spoken and written language. It is part of the human tendencies to want to communicate with others and this could underlie the emergence of language. Montessori said, “To talk is the nature of man. ” Humans needed language in order to communicate, and soon, the powers that come with language revealed. The evolution of the human language began when communication was done through pictograms 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, and 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.
This also marked the civilisation of mankind.
Language differentiates a community from one another but at the time it also unites and binds human being of different races together through a common language. Content Language is the ability to understand speech and a desire to convey one’s feelings and thoughts. It is through communication that human beings are able to cooperate with each other to solve common problems. It is through communication based on written and oral language in particular that each generation has passed on its accumulating wisdom to the next. “Language, we may say, grow with human thought”. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p109) The learning of language is truly the child’s most remarkable intellectual achievement and is amazingly accomplished rapidly in a very short time span. “By merely living and without any conscious effort the individual absorbs from the environment even a complex cultural like language” (Elizabeth G. Hainstock, The Essential Montessori, pg. 81) Based on Montessori’s observation, the various periods of the child’s life show the same stages in the level reached and this applied to all the children throughout the world, this applied to the acquisition of language in the child.
She found out that the child is first interested with human’s voice, follow by repeating the same syllable, then words are spoken of more than one syllable, then the whole syntax and grammar seem to be grasped, gender and number, case, tense and mood. The child begins this work in the darkness of the subconscious mind, and here it develops and fixes itself permanently. Though it seems as a mystery, the child takes a lot of practices to connect the physical and psychic abilities. Maria Montessori observed that the sensitive period of language is the longest one which is from birth to age 6: 1.
Birth – age 1: the child is sensitive to sounds; listening and watching and then started with single syllable, imitating sound and pointing to objects in the attempt to communicate. If the child is taught sign language, he may be able to use signs to communicate at the tender age of 10 months, way before he develops speech. 2. Age 1 – age 2: the child is sensitive to words; begins using simple words. He responds to simple then complex commands. Understand about 200 words. 3. Age 2 – 3 and up: the child’s vocabulary increases tremendously (from approximately 300 to 1000 words). . Age 4- this is the sensitive time for writing. 5. Age 4 and a half to 5 – the child starts to classify words and reading. 6. Age 5 to 6 – sensitive to the study of parts of speech and word usage. At the beginning of the child’s sensitive period to language, he explores his surroundings with his tongue and hands, and through these, the child absorbs the qualities of objects in his environment and seeks to act upon it. He wants to know the name of every object that he sees and touches and mimic words said by the adults around him.
Montessori concluded that the tongue which man uses for speaking and the hand, which he employs for work, are intimately connected. This sensibility is transitory and once gone it will never return. The language explosive happens and erupts in the child’s powers of expression and it continues well after the age of two. After two and a half years old, which marks the borderline of man’s mental formation, begins a new period in organizing the language and this continues to develop without explosion, learn many new words and perfects his sentence formation.
At six years old, a child has learnt to speak correctly according to the rules of his mother tongue. And all these work is done by no one, but the child himself. Research has been made that in comparison with the adults’ ability to learn, the adults need sixty years of hard work to do it where a child does it in three. Therefore, it is particularly important that the adults give assistant where necessary for the development of language in a child, by exposing him to good grammar sentences and wide vocabularies to feed his absorbent mind during this sensitive period.
Though a child works effortlessly in the acquisition of language, however, he does need a suitable environment. So, in cases where the child is not spoken to, like the boy of Aveyron, the child does not develop speech. Maria Montessori pointed out that during the Sensitive Period of language, the child must be exposed to language or it will not develop. Montessori “considered the job of education not to fill the child with the techniques of reading but to free him or self-expression and communication”. Paula Polk Lillard, A Modern Approach, pg. 123) The mind needs language in order to connect thoughts to the environment. Montessori’s methods make full use of the child’s sensitive period of language by creating an environment that aids this development. In the Montessori environment, the child is constantly exposed to information, through formal lessons, conversations and games; preparing him and thus, making it possible for the child to start creative writing and reading at a young age.
The child can freely express himself thus able to grow up happily and confidently. BIBLIOGRAPHY Gettman, David Basic Montessori St Martin’s Press New York, 1987 Paula Polk Lillard Montessori: A Modern Approach Schocken, 1988 Britton, Lesley Montessori Play & Learn Vermilion, 1992 Montessori, Maria The Secret Of Childhood Balantine, 1972 Montessori, Maria, The Discovery Of the Child Clio Press Oxford, 200
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