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  • Writer's picturehayley s

The Language Area

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

The language area in a Montessori classroom is a wonderous thing. The materials are too numerous to list, though I will link below videos of some of the key lessons.

As a brief overview, language learning proceeds as follows in the Montessori classroom

  1. Spoken language

  2. Phonetic awareness

  3. Creating words / writing

  4. Reading

Spoken language obviously includes every verbal interaction in the classroom, story time with emphasis on comprehension of what was heard, listening games, and helping children move from parallel speaking to real conversations. Accurate vocabulary is used in a Montessori classroom at all times. For example, a child doesn't have a "Boo boo" or an "ouchie" - they have a cut, a bruise or whatever the injury may be. There are endless picture vocabulary cards to expand the child's knowledge while they are in the sensitive period for language.

Phonetic awareness comes whenever the child is ready for it, and often at a much younger age than conventional education introduces it. In a Montessori room it begins with the sandpaper letters, with phonetic sounds of each - not letter names - introduced. It does not help a child to know the letter names of c, a and t when attempting to read the word cat, they will at best say something that sounds like see-ae-tee.

Word building (followed by sentence building of course) comes next in the language curriculum and I will link below a video of a child learning to build words with the large moveable alphabet so this process may be easily understood to those unfamiliar with Montessori materials.

The ability to read develops indirectly of course, through the first two stages here mentioned. It is refined by the use of beginner level books containing mostly phonetically correct words, and usually accompanied by a beginner reader series of books designed specially for this purpose. But many people may be surprised to find that writing can be taught before reading in the Montessori method. Going back to the sandpaper letters being traced by the child with their finger when learning each sound, the knowledge of the shape and formation of the letter is already in the child's memory, waiting for the hand's ability to form a proper pincer grip and write. All the activities for fine motor control mentioned in the Practical Life post lead to this ability, and it is further refined by the metal insets (frequently mentioned by children telling parents about their lessons as 'metal insects'). I will link videos of some lessons below.

Metal Insets (pre writing)

Sandpaper Letters (learning phonetic sounds)

Large Moveable Alphabet (word building)

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