Introduction to Language

Discoveries made by children about their language

Casa

  • They discover a great deal of vocabulary through the ‘enrichment of vocabulary’
  • That they can make their thoughts, feelings and ideas visible to others with the Sand Paper Letters and Moveable Alphabets
  • They can find out what other people are thinking with the use of the symbols
  • Words on paper or in their thoughts do certain jobs, Sentence Analysis
  • Total Reading through Interpretive Reading

Elementary

  • Inborn knowledge of the child’s language is helped to become conscious knowledge of how their language works.
  • Grammar Analysis of the Parts of Speech give the child a concrete way to explore their language.
  • The language activities are not to teach language but for them to become conscious of the order on which the structure of the language is based so that they can appreciate it.

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The development of language is essential for the intellect and for clarity of thought, if you have clarity of thought and intellectual independence it is possible to think independently. Concrete, manipulative materials engage the mind while the hand is active to exercise their reason. They allow the children to make judgements, decisions and deductions.

Presentations

  • We begin with the Great Stories to appeal to the child’s imagination
  • For all the language materials the children need to able to read
  • We appeal to the social sense of the child at this plane, presenting Grammar Boxes to pairs, with Command Cards later to threes and fours.
  • Chapters in Language open with the History of Language, Grammar and Syntax, Written Language Spoken Language, the Study of Style and Literature.  Parts of each chapter are introduced in parallel throughout the Elementary years.
  • The child is the transmitter of culture, with language being the means by which they pass it on.  We want to ensure that their treasure is a beautiful language to be passed on.

Purpose of teaching language

The human tendency towards communication drove people to create languages and these changed over time to reflect the people and their environment.  Showing the child their place in their culture is part of putting them in touch with their culture and help them adapt.  In to ‘Educate the Human Potential’, Montessori states, ‘What is necessary is that the individual form the earliest years should be placed in relation with Human Beings…We take all that is done for us without gratitude…we give no thought to the  men and women who daily give their lives that we might live more richly. The child will have the greater pleasure in all subjects, and find them easier to learn, if he be led to realise how these subjects first came to be studied and who studied them.  We read and write, and the child can be taught who invented writing the instruments who wherewith we write, how printing came and books became so numerous…Let us in education always call to the attention of children to the hosts of men and women who are hidden from the light of fame, so kindling a love of society.’ (p.17)

The child, in contact with reality, can use her imagination to picture the people who spoke the languages which give rise to hers.

 Telling the story of the English Language

  • Sumerians use of cuneiform on clay tablets connects their writing to their locality, the fast drying mud and their practicality.
  • Egyptian use of two styles of Hieroglyphics, one for the exclusive, priestly class of stately and religious events and the Demotic which was used by the people for ordinary recording.
  • Phoenicians who sailed the Mediterranean, who invented the alphabet on which our consonants are based, altered and added to by the Greeks.
  • The Greek’s began to do this in about 500 BC, ‘alphabeto’, ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ and the habit of writing from left to write, before that the direction was ’boustrophedon’, a Greek word for ‘as the ox turns in ploughing’, turning from left to write, then right to left immediately underneath.
  • The Romans beautified the system and later the Irish monks used it to write beautiful manuscripts, beginning to write, ‘minuscules’, small rounded letters in the seventh century.  The ‘Caroline’ hand came from the Emperor Charlemagne, in the tenth century and then different nations invented their own ways of writing, such as ‘gothic’.
  • The printing press was invented in 1450 by, Johannes Gutenberg it was mainly used by the church and brought the chance for books to be produced on a mass scale, children’s books could be produced for many people.
  • The story of English is one of influence from other groups, especially Latin, French and Greek.

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