I think learning different languages can really be helpful to any human being’s development, and since small children and babies are little sponges, traveling can be a great opportunity to introduce a new language, even if it’s just a few words, to a baby, toddler, or small child.
Although my husband and I both speak to our daughter in English, I try to interject Spanish once in a while, and my husband tries (probably about 60% of the time) to speak to her in his native language, Malayalam. We’ve taught her some basic baby sign language, which she uses and helps her to communicate her needs (milk, water, up, go, come). She ferociously squeezes both fists together like she’s milking a cow whenever she is hungry for milk.
We’ve been lucky also to have several care givers throughout our travels that have exposed our daughter to native Arabic, Spanish, Sotho, and Tagalog. There’s a good chance she won’t remember any of the words and their meanings from this exposure, but I certainly don’t think it has hurt, and as she grows older and begins speaking, I hope that she continues this type of exposure to new languages. I think learning different languages, ways of communicating, and ways of constructing sentences will broaden the way she sees, interprets, and analyzes the world.
International travel can be a great opportunity for families with babies, toddlers, and small children to learn a new language, or even a few new words together (hello, good-bye, how are you, where is…?). This can be a wonderful learning opportunity, in addition to being a wonderful activity to occupy time on a long flight or lay-over.