When I first heard the words, “cosmic task”, I was a new assistant guide at a Montessori school. I was delighted by this vocalized expression of a concept that had frequented my thoughts on life, seemingly ad nauseam. I say “seemingly” because I did find, after another month or two working at that school, that my cosmic task formed greater definition.
What I came to find out was that I not only wanted to use my Spanish skills, but to actively promote bilingualism and biculturalism. Furthermore, a specific task took hold within me – to design Montessori-based Spanish language learning curriculum for elementary-aged scholars.
I noticed that there were already beautiful nomenclature cards for learning Spanish vocabulary (I’d give shout outs but I don’t want to leave anyone out), and this is a wonderful way for students to begin learning. I highly recommend Montessori schools to begin using Spanish nomenclature cards as early as possible. Another way to support young language learners as early as Children’s House is to help them acquire sounds and syllables in Spanish, even as they learn some fun vocabulary.
I have found, through social media, through teachers who have reached out to me, and through my exploration of various Montessori school websites, that Spanish teachers are doing amazing work with applying what they know about language acquisition and Maria Montessori’s ideas of acquiring a language through stories and games.
However, I have noticed an untapped potential for elementary students who have already grasped basic grammar in English (which, in Montessori, usually happens in lower elementary). There is a need for materials that harness the power of Montessori language analysis skills and construction of knowledge in a way that would support a language learner.
So, as soon as I noticed this, I got to work.
That work has taken twists and turns along the way. It has been almost 7 years since I created my first set rudimentary set of Spanish language learning cards. What started out as a mini set of verb-focused cards with a system of analysis has now become a full elementary line of Montessori-inspired Spanish language learning curriculum, housed in 9 gorgeous boxes designed by an expert woodworker, otherwise known as my husband.
El Puente Bilingüe curriculum uses the latest research on bilingual education and approaches language learning and acquisition that incorporates cross-linguistic comparisons, constructivism, and Montessori grammar analysis and language learning skills.
It includes explicit presentation of approximately 500 new words, and elicits exploratory activities that allow for further vocabulary and skill development. This scaffolded and aligned curriculum can accompany a program that is already in place, or it can be used on its own, as there are a sufficient amount of lessons and activities to take you through the school year.
The skills and topics covered include:
Nouns and Articles
An intro to Sentence Analysis
Home and School Vocabulary
Human Beings (Physical and Personality vocabulary)
Subject Pronouns (not including Vosotros)
Tú and Usted usage
-AR verbs and conjugations
-ER verbs and conjugations
-IR verbs and conjugations
Identifying Irregular Verbs
Ser and Estar
Commonly used irregular verbs
Verb Study (a process I developed for Spanish language learners which takes a Montessori step-by-step approach)
Sentence analysis for the lifelong language learner
As I write this post, we are days/hours away from our product launch, which will include an offer to 3 schools who would like to be part of a pilot program (please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you might be interested in this opportunity). We are photographing our products and writing up product descriptions. While I feel a sense of relief in seeing a project come to fruition, I know that this is just the beginning. I already have ideas for how we will build and expand upon this curriculum and increase my reach in completing the cosmic task of El Puente Bilingüe.
I invite you to be a part of this conversation by following El Puente Bilingüe on social media (mostly active on Facebook and LinkedIn) and by sharing our work. As mentioned, I will offer a pilot program for teachers who want to use the materials with added support directly from me. Our first round of materials will be limited to supplies on-hand, but I am happy to start a waitlist if necessary. I look forward to forming relationships with Montessori educators who share a love for culture and language, and during this first year of distribution I will improve our products based on feedback and reflection.
This leads me to conclude by sharing just how much I have enjoyed reflecting along the way as this curriculum has developed and I have learned about so many things that I never dreamed I’d be doing as. part of this work. It is now coming out into the 3D world, and I invite you to join me in building bilingual bridges in your classrooms and communities with the help of Montessori-inspired Spanish language learning and teaching materials by El Puente Bilingüe.