Montessori in ESL language learning – part 1

Montessori is still very popular. When looking for teaching advice or materials I often stumbled upon Montessori materials and the Montessori way to teach, however often the suggested materials were pretty expensive and not always possible in my classes. So how can you use Montessori in your lessons or at home?

Now I’m not a certified Montessori teacher nor do I claim to be one. I’m just explaining the way I try to implement the principles in my lessons at home and in the classroom.

First we need to understand what the main principles of Montessori are. You can find a lot of info on and has a very nice explanation about montessori. The most important principles are:

  • Respect: respect for the child. You must look at and respect the developmental needs and interests of each child. Easy at home but it can be challenging in the classroom.
  • Absorbent minds. Young learners are eager to learn and absorb knowledge easily. The goal is to create an environment that helps them discover the world around them while absorbing knowledge.
  • Sensitive periods in which children more easily learn certain information. The goal is here to provide the right material to get the maximum out of a certain period. It’s key to observe the child and provide the right material at the right time. Again easy at home but not so easy in the classroom.
  • Prepared environment to optimize learning where children can choose the way they are learning and try things themselves. Children can learn themselves by exploring their environment. (Auto-education) Again something that you can do easily at home but is harder in a classroom and yet again observing the child plays an important role.
  • Role of the teacher: the role of the teacher is less teaching but more observing and guiding the child by providing the right material for each student.

For those who are ESL teachers, you can see that it isn’t easy to apply these concepts in an ESL or TEFL classroom especially if you only see your students a few hours per day or even per week. However there are options to apply these principles at least partly in your classroom or your lessons. Your children will benefit of them. I will post in this series a few posts on how to implement these principles at home and in a ESL / TEFL classroom.


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