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How Is Language Encouraged In Montessori Prepared Environment ?

"Language lies at the root of that transformation of the environment that we call
civilization." How language encouraged in Montessori is prepared environment? Language is a
communication system. It is truthful that we use language to communicate with others. However,
language is much more than a communication system. The most recent thinking about the nature
of language, suggests that language is first and leading a representational system; a system which
provides us with the symbols we need to model for ourselves, to ourselves, inside our heads, the
universe around us. This modeling, carried out using the symbols ("words") provided by
language, is commonly called "thinking." The communication function of language, which
allows us to represent things not only to ourselves but also to others as well, is an added benefit.
Language is the ability to understand conversation and a wish to express a person’s feelings and
thoughts. It is a kind of difficulty which encloses a given human being corporation, and separates
it from all others. It also unites men and they develop and expand according to the need of their
mind. It is through communication that human beings have cooperated with each other to solve
common problems. This is through communication based on written and oral language in
particular that each generation has passed on its accumulated 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 amazing intellectual achievement, and is
remarkably skilled rapidly in a very short period of time. "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 range of periods of the child’s life show the same
stages in the level reached and this applied to all the children throughout the world. With the
reality of rules of language, a child can easily speak the language without difficulty. She stressed
out that the child learns a language begins in the deepest dimness of his insensible mind, there it
developed. The understanding period for language occurs from birth to six years old. This
sensibility is short-lived and once gone it will never return. The language explosive happenings
and eruptions in his powers of expression the baby is aware that human voices from the mouth
and they will cries differently for different needs and smiles when sees us, this things all will
happen from birth till 3 months old . While at about 4-6 months old they will start to babbling
sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m while they will
chuckles and laughs vocalizes excitement and annoyance, they also makes gurgling sounds when
left alone and when playing with us, a child reach at this stage after a very huge attempt. At
about 10 month old, Montessori believe that children may understood that there is purpose for
the voices which coming out from mouth of a human. While during the going on month, the
baby starts to understand the words spoken by the adult is intended to them. While at age of 1 the
child slowly begin to speak words on purpose and they also will try to imitate words taught by
the adult, while they also uses gestures to communication (waving, holding arms to be picked
up). Meanwhile at 18 months, the child realizes that each thing in the surroundings has name
(noun). Therefore they will be able to indentify concrete noun. While during this period they will
use many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words and they also will use
holophrases, which means use one word sentences to express the whole taught. At about 21
months old, without difficulties they will learn the different type of noun, suffixes, prefixes and
Meanwhile an explosive happenings and eruptions in his powers of expression will be
continue even after age of 2, at this stage the children keep on to apply sentences which is
straightforward and difficult. The social class which established in the child is strange in
appearance of the mental structure and language mechanisms. 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 6 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 mainly significant that the adults give
assistant where needed for the development of language in a child, by exposing him to good
grammar sentences and wide vocabulary to feed his absorbent mind during this sensitive period.
Montessori once said that, “the adult is capable of defending his country and guarding its
frontier, but it is the child who maintains its spiritual unity through its language. (Standing,
Maria Montessori: Her Life & Work, p122) It is important to remember that the young child
does not need deliberate teaching, but he does need help in his development.

In summary Montessori regarded that the child which is less than 6 years of age as having
an ‘absorbent mind’. The mind of the child from birth to three years of age is active yet
insensible of what is being learned. A good example of this is the achievement of language.
From three to six we see the child enter the period of the ‘conscious absorbent mind’ now the
child deliberately and energetically absorbs information from the environment and from
experience. The child comes to know the world through the senses. In addition to this quality of
an absorbent mind the child has what Montessori referred to as ‘sensitive periods’. These are
periods when the child is drawn to certain aspects of the environment. The sensitive periods
include a sensitive period for learning language, refining the senses, learning to perfect
movement and walking, a love of order in the environment and an attention to details and it is
also important to remember that the young child does not need deliberate teaching, but they does
need help in their development.

Certainly Dr. Maria Montessori recognized that precedes reading in young children and
developed her method of teaching. While normally young children are frequently able to write
before they learn to read. The children around three to four years old could know a small number
of letters of alphabet and they are in point to figure it out how to represent a word; for example
‘o’ and ‘x’, they might write down or construct in wooden letters or letter card. Because of this
Montessori used natural way, which referring to writing first method to teach reading as a
direction to approach and which is suitable for all the children. Because in writing sound are
converted to letter. Once we have converted the sound into the latter and then write them onto
paper, once done, reverse the same process by converting letters to the sound but are not reading.
The first step in reading is sounding out. We can figure it out the sound that the letters stand for,
but this is not reading. But to be regarded as reading, we need to recognize the word, not just
pronounce it. In a Montessori prepared environment, it provides materials that aids this process.
To start off with the child in his development in language, the Montessori classroom is designed
to help the child reach the 3rd period of perception. 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 which is also known as Montessori Language materials plays an important role in aiding
the children develop the powers of communication and expression, of organization and
classification, and the development of thought. The materials are Oral/Auditory, Word Reading
Level, and there is also Montessori Three Period Lesson.

Now let us see the first Montessori language material, which is Oral/Auditory. At this
stage children are taught a variety of games that focuses on developing their ability to hear the
initial terminal and finally the medial sounds words while Montessori three-period lesson teaches
the child new words and this is repeatedly done up to the third period where the child tries to
recall the name that was told earlier. If the child could not pronounce the word correctly,
probably he is not ready for this activity. The teacher should be aware of this and do this another
time. In each lesson, it is shown that the child is only being taught when he is ready and not by
force. In the practical life exercise, the name of the materials used and the activities are
introduced to the child. Hence, indirectly this will widen the child’s vocabulary. Also during the
Grace and Courtesy lesson, the child is shown how to use the proper words and sentences to be
deemed polite. The step-by-step procedures on how to execute the activities are explained slowly
and carefully, so that the child understood clearly of what needs to be done. In the Sensorial area,
similar to the Practical Life exercise, the name of the educational materials used and the
activities are introduced to the child.

The work of a child in this activity is to obtain conscious knowledge that is

systematically organized. This is done by the intelligence comparing and selective the
impressions received by the senses. Words used such as tall, taller, tallest, or broad, broader,
broadest. These two main areas will assist the child in developing dexterity his fine motor skills,
and his eye and hand coordination, which helps when it comes to learning the letters. As
Montessori continued emphasizing the importance of presenting the child a whole view of the
world, the Cultural subjects gives the child the opportunity to explore and enrich the child’s
understanding all of the aspect about the world he lives in. Under this heading, there are few
branches of science, history, geography, art and music among the common ones. The main
purpose of this area is to develop the interest and awareness of nature in the child and also to
develop his vocabulary. The most important subject is the Language subject itself. Language has
four main aspects: listening, speaking, reading and writing; where listening and reading are
means of sharing people’s thought; and speaking and writing are means of self-expression.
Storytelling and reading, finger play, songs, poems and naming activities are few examples of
activities that are encouraged in the class. The I-Spy game is one of the classic word games that
are played in the classroom. Phonetic method is taught to the child where the sound and not the
name of the alphabets are introduced.

Meanwhile the Montessori reading material is classified into the Pink Scheme, the Blue
Scheme and the Green Scheme. These materials were developed to meet that need. They break
down the essentials of English phonics into three groups: short vowel sounds, consonant blends,
and phonetic combinations. By moving through these materials in order, a child is able to easily
master the art of reading and writing in English. The aim of the Pink Scheme is to give the child
a variety of work of the same style to maintain her interest. If a child has difficulty with reading,
or if she does not show an interest in reading, the teacher must give her extra help each day. She
must do all she can to arouse her interest and make her feel that she can do the work. All the
children in the class must be helped to enjoy reading. No child can be educated unless she can
read. As most children read. enthusiastically on their own, given a reading material they
understand, there is time to give a little individual help each day to the few children who need
this before they get started, the words consist of three letters: a beginning and ending consonant,
and a vowel in the middle. Besides that the Blue Scheme is the same format of materials
previously used in the Beginning Reading sequence is repeated. Now, for the four or more letter
phonetic words, the materials are color-coded blue. The large array of materials are intended to
give the children lots of practice reading phonetic words. The material is presented in different
formats in order to keep the children's interest and help them feel that they are progressing. After
children have been working with a given material for awhile, new material is brought into the
room to keep interest alive. While the Green Scheme is where reading fluency really begins, as
the child now has the keys to unlock the inconsistencies and characteristics of the English
language and it has words consist of all the major phonemes, it also includes silent letters, hard
and soft letters, and many other difficult spelling and reading challenges.

Besides that The Phonetic Farm game introduces grammatical concepts using colour-
coding sheme for different part of speech. However, according to Sequin, “it is not necessary to
teach a child how to write; a child who can draw will write.”(Maria Montessori, The Discovery
of the Child, p186). Therefore, in a Montessori classroom, a child is taught to write first before
reading. The exercises from the Practical Life and Sensorial have indirectly prepared his hand for
writing. In the Language area, the metal inset will indirectly help the child to gain good control
of pencil through tracing the shape of the inset. The Sandpaper letters give the child the link
between the sounds he has been working with a particular sense perception. The moveable
alphabet activity assists the child in word building skills and to analyze words as a preparation
for reading, writing and spelling, by assembling the words according to the sound or picture

Apart from the materials available in the prepared environment, the teacher plays an
important role as a model and a facilitator. She “must approach the children with humility,
recognizing her role as a secondary one.”(Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori, A Modern Approach,
p79). She should not intervene a learning child while he is absorbing in his work. Instead, she
should encourage him and always ready to assist the child if needed to. She must also inspire the
child to learn, especially language in this context. In a Montessori classroom, social interactions
between the children are encouraged and this helps in maturing the children’s language
development. Through their Grace and Courtesy lessons, they learn how to communicate with
respect and politely with their peers. As the child has been exposed to so much information in the
Montessori environment, he is now in a position to produce a wealth of compositions on many
different subjects. The adults make be observant to sense the child’s sensitive period as in this
period, it is very easy to teach children certain concepts that later on will be somewhat more
difficult for an older child to learn years when a child learns language is surely a profound and
mysterious process of learning. “It is this that makes it possible for the Montessori child to build
one foundation out of another in an ever-extending reach for self construction.” (Paula Polk
Lillard, Montessori, A Modern Approach, p137)
In conclusion we can say that as the child leaves the Montessori classroom after the age
of six, they will have become an communicative person, being able to communication his
feelings in well-formed sentences and in writing. He will be able to write these thoughts and
feelings in a skillful handwriting. He will have the ability to write in different styles and about a
variety of subjects. The child will have total reading and a sense of the home language at a level
where he will be the master of his words.

1. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, An Owl Book, Henry Holt and Company, New
2. Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, The Ballantine Book, The Random House,
Publishing Book.
3. Elizabeth G. Hainstock, The Essential Montessori, Plume Book, USA
4. E.M. Standing, Maria Montessori: Her Life & Work, PLUME, Penguin Books USA
5. Paula Polk Lillard, Montessori , A Modern Approach, Schocken Books, New York, USA