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Multilingualism in Montessori: another tool to educate towards peace

Feb 18, 2019

Back in May, while I was preparing my interview for the Congreso Online Montessori 2018, I reflected on how multilingualism can also be a tool to educate our children towards peace. And I realized something: I always wanted to give my children Italian and Finnish to be able to communicate with our respective Italian and Finnish families and people, but that’s not the reason why I wanted my kids to be multilingual.

The real reason (besides all the scientifically-proven benefits that multilingualism gives the brain) is that I know what it means to speak more languages fluently, but not being fully multilingual. I know what it means to not have learnt those languages from birth, and I struggled for years (and still do) to get to the level I am today, because only when I started speaking English fluently, could I start really learning the language.

Speaking a language is not just knowing the words and being able to put them together in the right order: a language is a window onto the culture behind the language, the geography of its country, the history of its people, their traditions, habits, even their way of thinking.

One day my friend Marisa said something that made a lot of sense to me: her daughter Bella (4) doesn’t just speak English and Spanish, she becomes English or Spanish according to the language she’s speaking. She’s quieter and more polite (according to her standards) in English and she’s louder and more chaotic in Spanish (we live in the south of Spain ;-).

This double, triple, quadruple “personality” is the reason why I’ll never stop motivating parents to expose their children to as many languages as possible from birth, and especially in the first six years of life, when children are geniuses at learning languages. Because when you learn a language from birth, you don’t just learn a new way of communicating, you acquire a new mother tongue and a whole new culture.

Maria Montessori’s main goal was to edcuate a generation of people who believed in (and lived for) peace. If we think about it this way, multilingualism can be yet another tool to educate the future generations, our children, towards peace.

Because here’s the thing.

Languages can be walls or bridges between cultures and by exposing our kids to more than one language from birth, we’re automatically exposing them to the cultures behind those languages, and giving them yet another tool to build bridges: it’s as if we’re wiring their brain to be more tolerant, more understanding, more respectful of the “different”; we’re giving them the tools to develop their full potential of social beings and become citizens of the world — the adults of tomorrow.

Comments

Dominique • Feb 22, 2019

Loved this post! We’re half French, half English (which might be more similar as cultures than Spanish and English) so I don’t see a big difference when my child speaks one language or the other, but I absolutely love how he switches from one to the other with no effort at all. And I also believe that speaking more than one language gives kids the ability to be more empathetic. Thanks for sharing!

🌸 Carlotta • Feb 22, 2019

Thanks for your comment! I also don’t notice much the difference when Oliver (for Emily it’s early to say) speaks one language or the other. I think it also depends on the personalities of the parents (in Bella’s case the mom is very English and the dad very Spanish ;-). But yes, I love how they switched with ease between languages (and I’m also a bit envious, my brain sometimes can’t do it, especially when I’m tired!). Thank YOU for sharing!

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
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Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
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Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
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I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

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On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
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