The Badanamu Method, Montessori, and the AIM:
Successful Strategies for Language Acquisition
He [the child] learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love. -Montessori
My goal is also to help students find joy in learning, to help them acquire a language naturally, as they did their first language. It is my hope that by teaching language through story, theatre, drama, dance and music, students lose themselves in the subject matter and unconsciously and naturally internalize language rapidly by focusing on the content and by using the language for a higher purpose, other than the study of the language itself. -Wendy Maxwell
The Montessori educational philosophy is known the world over for its play-based, multiple intelligence approach to learning. For the last ten years the Accelerative Integrated Methodology (AIM) has gained more and more attention for applying some of Montessori’s same knowledge acquisition strategies and showing very impressive results. Now, the Badanamu Method is joining the scene with a technology solution that utilizes the common principles of both Montessori and the AIM.
The following is a brief comparison of some of the key Badanamu principles shared by Montessori and the AIM:
1.The Badanamu Method emphasizes that children acquire knowledge naturally through modes of playful discovery and exploration. Badanamu products are rich with resources to help parents and teachers create environments for children to do what is natural to them: learn and play.
Using the Gesture Approach and focus on movement through drama and choreography, the AIM, like Badanamu, provides a truly active, participatory, hands-on experience for the learner. The AIM’s “pleasant repetition” is one of the key reasons for its success. Creativity abounds in the program, where students learn to write stories, dramatize, create stories through improvisation, choreograph dances, write songs and raps, and much more.
The practical application of the Montessori method is based on natural behavior of children. Montessori believed that children naturally explore, move, share with groups, act independently, and make decisions. They create order, develop self-control, abstract ideas from experience, use the creative imagination, work hard, repeat, concentrate, and perfect their efforts through experience. When children do these things, they learn.
2.The Badanamu Method believes, given the correct environment, the learning process should be mostly self-motivated. The child should be introduced to new concepts, given a chance to explore them from multiple perspectives, and demonstrate proficiency all within a loosely structured play environment.
In the Teacher’s Guides, AIM provides a template for the introduction of every type of activity. The teacher repeats and models the task to the degree necessary to ensure that students feel confident and secure in their ability to do the activity. It is then handed off to the students to work in partners or in small groups, to discuss and create together as they further their understanding of the activity.
According to the Montessori method there are three stages of learning: (Stage 1) introduction to a concept by means of a lecture, lesson, something read in a book, etc. (Stage 2) processing the information, developing an understanding of the concept through work, experimentation, creation (Stage 3) “knowing” or possessing an understanding, demonstrated by the ability to pass a test with confidence, to teach another, or to express with ease.
3.The Badanamu Method believes that each step in the learning path should transition effortlessly into the next in a way that children can discover independent of adult involvement.
The AIM program is systematically designed in a manner to build a foundation that supports the success of students from one level to the next, so that they expand their abilities to be creative with the language in many ways. Within the structure of the AIM, students are free to be creative, discover, and continuously improve language proficiency.
In Montessori the steps of learning any concept are analyzed by the adult and are systematically offered to the child. A child is always learning something that is indirectly preparing him to learn something else, making education a joyful discovery instead of drudgery, like boring textbook work.
4.The Badanamu Method believes a learning environment should be adaptable to the child. All of the learning steps in Badanamu products, whether it be Story or Math Time, are organized in a way to facilitate a child’s progress, not guide it. The child is free to explore within the Badanamu environment within the skill set s/he has finished.
The most effective path to literacy development in any language, is found not by racing to teach as many stories as possible, but rather, by ‘going in, out and around a story’ (Booth), exploring it in depth and working with the one story over many hours and months in the program. This pattern remains the same from one AIM kit to the next, allowing students to build such a deep foundation of knowledge and skill that motivation and a sense of security and predictability develop.
According to the Montessori method it is the role of the teacher to prepare and continue to adapt the environment, to link the child to it through well-thought-out lessons, and to facilitate the child’s exploration and creativity. The Prepared Environment is essential to the success of Montessori. There must be just the right amount of educational materials to allow for the work of the child.
5.The Badanamu Method is about creating an environment where students want to come to play. We give parents and teachers the resources they need to inspire their children to explore. How the children explore is up to them: play with friends, sing songs, dance, color, craft, or play the application.
The program is designed so that, as soon as possible, students are able to handle, with the support of a partner, the essential partner/group activities. As soon as language skills permit, a very small portion of the AIM class (e.g. 5-10 minutes at the beginning of a 40-50 minute period) is all that should be allotted for whole-class work.The AIM’s heavy emphasis on partner/group activities is essential as students gain fluency in order for them to have sufficient time to practice the language skills in order to develop the highest level of proficiency possible within the limited time frame of a core or basic language course.
There are no textbooks in the Montessori method, and seldom will two or more children be studying the same thing at the same time. Children learn directly from the environment, and from other children—rather than from the teacher. Large groups occur only in the beginning of a new class, or in the beginning of the school year, and are phased out as the children gain independence.
6.The Badanamu Method addresses multiple intelligences through our principles of Talk, Feel, Play, Think.
The AIM is a multi-modal approach that helps students simultaneously visualize, kinesthetically embed and hear language naturally as they acquire and practice words through the Gesture Approach. Not only words, but also syntax and grammar concepts are acquired in an accelerative manner as the brain is stimulated simultaneously in a variety of ways during the process of acquisition. There are theatrical and musical components, partner/group work, and of course a linguistic focus. Even the needs of students with math-logic intelligence are met as the AIM teaches grammar through an intuitive approach that emphasizes patterns of the language. (Maxwell).
Although Montesorri made her findings decades before Garner’s theory of multiple intelligences (1983), she saw a great need for addressing multiple types of learning in the classroom. All intelligences and styles of learning—musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, intuitive, natural, and the traditional linguistic and logical mathematical— are nurtured and respected.
7.Badanamu content is designed with specific learning standards in mind. Each level of Story Time and Math Time is precisely scaffolded to lead from one level to the next, as well as to lend understanding to each other across subjects.
The AIM is a content-based approach that also interconnects a variety of subject areas into one kit. This integrated approach to the teaching of languages through a story, theatre/drama/ literacy-based approach into which the musical and dance components are interwoven throughout, ensures that students experience language learning in a meaningful way. The approach of the AIM ensures not only an interconnectedness within one kit but also from one kit to the next, affording the possibility for solid foundation-building of language through scaffolding. (Maxwell).
In Montessori no single subject is taught in isolation. In fact, all subjects are interwoven and lend understanding to each other. At any one time in a day all subjects—math, language, science, history, geography, art, music, etc.—are being studied, at all levels. Students transition from one study to the next at their own pace, using observations they have made in one area to succeed in the next.
8.The Badanamu Method is entirely child focused. Throughout the Badanamu Club and the Teaching Guides we encourage parents and teachers to follow their children’s interests. We recognize that children who are emotionally engaged in a task have far superior focus and output.
Throughout the AIM books, one finds constant reminders to teachers to ‘seize the moment’ – to ensure that they use the technique Teacher-led self expression in an authentic and natural way to support students, even at the very early stages of development of language proficiency, to discuss topics that come up at any time that are of importance to them. These take absolute priority over a lesson that was designed for the day. Authentic communication for a purpose must always take priority in an AIM class – the primary goal of the program is to develop proficiency alongside emotional connection to the language.
Although Montessori requires careful lesson planning and preparation, the plans must be flexible and cater to the children. The teacher plans lessons for each child for each day; however, she will bow to the interests of a child following a passion.
The fact is Montessori, the AIM, and the Badanamu Method are showing amazing results with childhood education because all were developed by way of careful observation of children’s behavior. Just as Dr. Montessori sat for hours watching children at play, and Wendy Maxwell, no doubt, carefully noted the effects of using gestures with new language in children, the developers at Badanamu have spent countless hours in classrooms observing children interact with our products.
Maxwell, Wendy. “Why AIM Works: Supporting Research Studies.”
Maxwell, Wendy. “AIM and Montessori.”
Stephenson, Susan. Child of the World: Montessori for ages 3-12+.