When it comes to language, we focus on helping the children understand their place, the place of our species in this world. Language is, of course, connected to our species deeply. If we think about the human tendencies, there is a tendency to communicate, and that takes language.
With stories and key lessons we try to make the children become aware of the fact that all languages were first developed by early human beings and passed on. Over the years, our language has developed and been built up. As we bring in words from other languages, it has become enriched. Language responds to the needs of human beings. It’s a function of society, built by cooperation and agreement, an agreement of sounds, an agreement of order. Language also is vital to pass on information and knowledge; one of the characteristics of our species is that we can communicate with each other.
Language may be used for good or for evil. It may be used to express truth or falsehood. It may be kind and healing, or cruel and damaging. The use of language is a personal responsibility in terms of accuracy and intent. Language can create feelings of fear, love, excitement and happiness. It can escalate a confrontation, or it can defuse that same confrontation, whether the confrontation occurs between individuals, groups, or nations.
From this arises the idea that we should think before we speak or write. This is an important idea for children. Communication carries with it responsibility for effective and morally sound interactions with others. Language is much more then just reading and writing; language is visual, through senses, and auditory.
Language discoveries happen consistently but appear differently between the first plane and second plane of development. The use of and the need of language through the first plane of development in the children's house are not silent. Conversations happen naturally with much reasoning, questioning and asking. Four examples of discoveries that happen in the first plane of development might be:
There are more words than what I know right now. - Ex: nomenclature materials
I can make my language visible. - Sand paper letters / Movable Alphabet
I can know what someone else is telling me without hearing them speak. - reading
Words have a function. - We give seven parts of speech in primary.
Language in the Elementary class:
What’s significant to the second plane child is the difference between spoken and written language. Spoken language needs clarity of thought at that given moment. With writing, there’s a different time factor involved, you have time to think. You can go back over to edit your writing. With spoken language, one can be easily misinterpreted if we’re not careful. If we’re not clear we can cause confusion and trouble. This is the idea we want to help the children understand.
When Dr. Maria Montessori started her work, she wanted to ensure that the children were not in a traditional classroom set up. She wanted the children to move freely and be able to talk to one another. This is why she suggested the arrangement of the room more of a 'home-y' environment rather than row of desks. A drawing room idea where there are different tables and chairs with different shapes and she said, these rooms should not be silent.
She compared her environment to traditional environment; she was product from traditional teaching, where only with permission children were allowed to speak. What classrooms need to see and hear is the sound of human beings having a relationship with one another. Groups of children should not be getting fed information by the adult sitting quietly, rather instead having conversations, greeting one another, collaborating, open discussions, blending into the environment as a community.
We know that when children get to the second plane, they have new characteristics and we have to appeal to the new child. That's why language is presented as an imaginative exploration, otherwise children won’t be very interested.
If we expect the child to write a reportanalyze and dissect every book they read, we will kill the love for reading. Reading should be encouraged and fostered and it should be for pleasure. Reading should come out of a child’s interest and be something a child wants to do to satisfy the unrest in her mind.
That's why when giving a new lesson we do a recap of the previous work, or a connection to something we’ve already done or talked about. We’re building on what the child knows. Sometimes we pose a question or another way of helping the child to focus on what is going to be in this presentation. The presentation will give a new concept or an idea. Sometimes we tell a story. Sometimes we show a material. For example: The noun in our grammar work is seen as a black pyramid and the verb is identified as a red ball. We also give an experience or concepts before (Oral introductions) we give terminology, often with the use of etymology.
Getting the children interested in literature is important. During this time we expose the child to many types of books. We also encourage children to write imaginatively, creatively and factually. They should be doing research and reporting in subjects they are excited about while learning grammar and syntax.
Picking up on writing from Children's House, where we encouraged the child to put his thoughts down on paper or with the movable alphabet. All of the writing in both the Children's House and the Elementary class could be illustrated and decorated by the children. In Elementary, we’ll talk about illuminating some of the letters. We’ll see that written compositions can be beautiful as well as interesting and factual.
By the time children come to the end of the second plane, they should be able to use language in an almost limitless way. It should be an exciting aspect of exploration and a useful and usable tool.
Language Discoveries in Elementary:
- language is a human creation
- language helps people to satisfy their needs
- language has probably existed as long as there has been people
- language is the vehicle for transmission of human culture
- language changes
- language has forms that should be used for precise communication