How important is learning a language to you? It all depends on your country of origin- English speakers generally are less than enthusiastic about learning foreign languages as we know that we are lucky enough to be able to count on English to get by in most places. People coming from countries where the language is less wide-spread need to learn another language, and generally are very capable of speaking two or three languages. An international study a few years ago showed that children from nations such as Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania are more likely to be taught a number of foreign languages than their peers in the UK.

Some people are obsessed with learning a foreign tongue.  I know I am- living here in Vienna I daily have to come to terms with the fact that I don’t speak German well- or at least not to a level where I feel comfortable and can manage most social interaction. Obviously this is needs based; a situation which many people have and will never find themselves in.

But I have just had a confrontation with my 1-year old son, whose words are limited to dadadadadadada and mamamamama. He has proven clearly to me that words are unnecessary. Pointing, smiling, or as now crying quite loudly are equally as effective at making a point, although I’m not sure how far he would get at explaining why I need a new bank card for the umpteenth time. Indeed, I spent some time teaching him a few rudimentary signs so that he can express himself- hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, hug, mummy, daddy, kiss, bye bye. It’s great to see him use them, and nice to know that he can explain his needs.

Studies show that learning Baby Sign Language has many developmental benefits including:

Babies often get frustrated because they can’t communicate their needs to their mum and dad. This quickly leads to tantrums, fussing, and irritability. Baby sign language lets your baby constructively communicate what they want. Every parent that has had those moments of frantically trying to guess what a screaming child wants – baby sign language means fewer of those moments… not that we always get it right- there are still outbursts and frustrations, but I like to think they are fewer than they might have been. And a happy child equals a happy mum!