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Language Development

Montessori and the Wonderful World of Language

I've always been interested in languages, maybe living in a bilingual family fostered this love of languages. My wonderful teachers first introduced me to unique elements of language. While reading the Canterbury Tales in English class I was amazed how many words were similar in sound and meaning to my mother's dialect of Norwegian. I would read some of the text to my mother and she was able to understand most of it.

  • Here are some more links pertaining to Old and Middle English.
  • Here is part two.
  • How Old English and Old Norse are related.

I was also impacted during a literature class when a visiting linguist was able to hear each student speak and tell them which part of the United States they came from. She was unable to place only two of the students, one had moved every few years with his family in the military, and the other was me.


Here are some ideas to explore with your baby, preschooler and elementary aged kids. 

To Baby Talk or Not to Baby Talk


Some Montessori practitioners believe it is wrong to talk in a squeaky voice to babies. I admit I did speak to my babies in a singsong, squeaky voice. The babies loved it because they knew I was talking to them.

Some of the newest research gives another insight to high-pitched baby talkers.

  • NPR has a great audio about this. 'A new study in child development shows that babies learn language faster from parents who speak to them in "Parentese."  that high-pitched singsongy, exaggerated and often silly way that adults talk to their newborns.'
  • This shows how to speak Parentese.

Playing Games

Playing games with preschool children is a great way to sharpen language skills. Group games are the best. You need to learn and understand directions of the game, which take great communication skills. 

The Evolution of Language 

Montessori uses the Great Stories , such as the Story of Language, to inspire elementary students to use their creative imagination to learn.

The history of man's migration is linked to the evolution of language. Diffusion of language in the New World shows how language moves with man's colonization. The Roman Empire infused Latin into the languages of Europe. 

A brief history of English.

English is considered a Germanic language. It is part of a bigger language family called Indo-European. About half of the world's population speaks a Indo-European language. It has migrated to Africa, Australasia and much of the Western Hemisphere. English also has been influenced by Latin. For example, the word equestrian comes from the Latin word for horse, equus. 

  • Here is a timeline of the English language.  A fun way to learn Latin is to find out which words are Latin based within your own language.
  • This has some great lessons and ideas for English words that originated as Latin or Greek words.
  • Names of color and the evolution of language

Over half the world speaks a form of Indo-European language. They include Germanic, Romance, Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian. Finish and the Basque region of France and Spain are the only European cultures that don't speak Indo-European languages. 

During the Roman Empire's rise, Latin was introduced to much of Europe. It influenced Germanic and Slavic speaking countries. Latin eventually changed within each province of Europe. It was called Vulgar Latin because it was spoken by common people. Romance languages are Latin based. Today the most common Romantic languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. 

I remember my Spanish professor telling the class that Spanish was at least 80 to 90 percent Latin based . He said, why not learn Spanish in which you can converse, instead of dead language like Latin. It was a good sales pitch to keep me taking Spanish classes. 

Here are some more links about the History of Languages. 

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Last Updated: September 24, 2014
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