Original Research

Exploring the role of Malaguzzi’s ‘Hundred Languages of Children’ in early childhood education

Ramashego S.S. Mphahlele
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a757 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.757 | © 2019 Ramashego S.S. Mphahlele | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 March 2019 | Published: 14 October 2019

About the author(s)

Ramashego S.S. Mphahlele, Department of Early Childhood Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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Background: In the history of early childhood education (ECE), language is viewed as key in teaching and learning. Children in the ECE are mostly confined to verbal communication which, to a certain extent, restricts their imagination and inventive ability. Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, initiated the Hundred Languages of Children (HLC) as a pedagogical approach to enable children to interact and communicate.

Aim: This study aims to explore the role of HLC through the experiences and views of the four ECE practitioners in the Gauteng province. Drawing on Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, the author argues that ECE children possess different kinds of minds, and therefore they learn in different ways.

Setting: Two Early Childhood centres in the Gauteng Province of South Africa were selected for this study because they had adopted Malaguzzi’s HLC approach to constructing concepts to help children structure knowledge and organise learning.

Methods: The author used one-on-one interviews to get ECE practitioners’ experiences on using Malaguzzi’s HLC. To corroborate the interviews’ data, the author conducted classroom observations and document analysis.

Results: The participants viewed Malaguzzi’s HLC as an enabler to meet the requirement of the two sets of curricula from the Department of Social Development (the National Curriculum Framework for children from 0 to 4 years) and from the Department of Basic Education (the Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement for 5-year-old children).

Conclusion: The findings show a paradigm shift, as children become active constructors of their own knowledge.


documentation; early childhood education; Hundred Languages of Children; multiple intelligences; Reggio Emilia Pedagogical Approach


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