“Once the child can speak, he can express himself and no longer depends on others to guess his needs. He finds himself in touch with human society, for people can only communicate by means of language. Very soon afterward at one year of age, the child begins to walk….So man develops by stages, and the freedom he enjoys comes from these steps towards independence taken in turn…Truly it is nature which affords the child the opportunity to grow; it is nature which bestows independence upon him and guides him to success in achieving his freedom.”
– The Absorbent Mind, p.78
One of the sensitive periods Maria Montessori focuses on is language. No matter how complicated a language can be, a child will learn it if it is spoken to them during this sensitive time. In our Spanish Immersion classroom, I only speak Spanish to the children. They begin to copy the sounds and words until they are fluent in the language. It becomes necessary for the children to learn the language spoken around them so they feel that they are part of their community. Children are eager and excited to learn and communicate the new language. A sign of their readiness is when they begin to ask the names of various objects in Spanish around the classroom. Soon after, they will begin teaching other children the names in Spanish. This demonstrates their desire to further assimilate themselves into the classroom.
Singing songs is a great introduction to the new language. By being expressive with hand motions and facial expressions, the children come to understand the song whether or not they fully understand the language. When a child first starts in the class, there are many songs and simple conversations to learn. Little by little I teach them the names of the objects around the classroom. This will help the child understand his environment and set himself up for success.
Through extensive research, it has been proven that the earlier a child is introduced to a second language, the greater the chance that the child will master both languages. Teaching your child a second language can provide them with more skills to succeed in the future.
By Katia Ledon