Language, more than anything else, distinguishes humankind from other living creatures. Communication, among other significant advantages, is the most important benefit we derive from language. Language also plays a vital role in the life of an individual and therefore, can provide insights into a child’s development. Although a child does not need to be taught to speak, he must have exposure to language in order for it to fully develop. Beginning in infancy, the sensitive period for language acquisition undergoes significant growth and culminates around the age of six. Not only is a language rich environment a necessity to positive language development in infancy, but it is also a vital component as the child enters into the Early Childhood Montessori classroom. The study of language is an essential feature during the first few years of a child’s education. During this time, the teacher becomes an integral part of the child’s language learning. Our role is to provide the gift of language for each child as he navigates through the most important years for language acquisition. Ultimately, we are forming the foundation upon which future civilization will stand.
Language begins in infancy when a baby begins to make sounds. During the second month, babies coo and respond to the human voice. Even at these early stages, babies are responsive to singing and voices. This attentiveness is the beginning of the child’s effort to learn her native language. Around six months of age, babies babble using definite syllables. At this stage, babies are able to make sounds heard in all languages. With the encouragement of hearing their own sounds and the language that surrounds them, infants are able to develop their native tongue.