Language, simply put, is a system of symbols with an agreed upon meaning that is shared within a group of individuals. Maria Montessori understood that children have to learn language, that it is not inborn. She also understood the adolescent mind has a long sensitive period for language. Because language is deeply connected to the process of thinking, the child will need to be spoken to and listened to often.
Each child learns language at their own rate and pace. There can be different factors, such as a child learning multiple languages at once. Most often, with little effort, the child will be able to learn oral language by being in an environment that fosters conversation. Early on, toddlers will begin to make intentional sounds, "At one year of age the child says his first intentional word…his babbling has a purpose, and this intention is a proof of conscious intelligence…He becomes ever more aware that language refers to his surroundings, and his wish to master it consciously becomes also greater….Subconsciously and unaided, he strains himself to learn, and this effort makes his success all the more astonishing." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 111) Most children by the age of two will have a rapid growth in language comprehension. Towards the end of the second year the child is able to combine two or more words into basic sentences, “Every child…bursts out with a number of words all perfectly pronounced. And all this occurs at the end of the second year of his life.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 103)
The directress plays the most important role by giving objects labels within the environment. It is essential that all language be given to a child within a context. The child needs to know the names, labels, and the meaning of things in the environment in order for them to have relevancy, "At about a year and a half, the child discovers another fact, and that is that each thing has its own name." (The Absorbent Mind, p.113) This allows the child...
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