Why Mercury retrograde is the perfect time to learn a new language

The first Mercury retrograde of 2024 is in full swing. Named for the messenger of the gods, Mercury is the fastest-moving planet in our solar system and governs the mind and the mouth, expression, exchange, commerce, technology, and travel.

Three to four times a year, Mercury slows down in its insistent orbit. Contrary to the nomenclature, Mercury does not actually move backward but appears to do so from our vantage here on Earth.

When this cosmic slow-down showdown transpires, the realms that Mercury rules are affected; the wrong things are said, flights are canceled, contracts are compromised, exes come crawling out of the cabinetry, typos reign supreme and explicit photos are accidentally sent to the family group chat.

It ain’t pretty folks.

This transit is so taxing that some vigilant folks even give up dating during Mercury’s retrograde.

Yet, if we allow it, Mercury retrograde provides an excellent catalyst for self-improvement. If we focus on the prefix re, retrogrades are an invitation to revisit, revise, reimagine, and restart ideas and initiatives we may have abandoned in the past.

Among these abandoned attempts? New Year’s resolutions.

According to the language experts at Promova, 88% of people polled listed “language learning” as one of their New Year’s resolutions in 2024. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 74% of those people failed to keep their pledge.

The openness and enthusiasm that learning a language requires is the specialty of Aries, the sign this retrograde is slowing down/going down in.

Enter Mercury retrograde, no finer a time to revisit a resolution gone awry. Because Mercury rules language and retrograde calls us to be extra considerate in our wielding of it, this retrograde cycle is an ideal opportunity to retrain your brain and introduce the expansive qualities of a new tongue.

The openness and enthusiasm that learning a language requires is the specialty of Aries, the sign this retrograde is slowing down/going down in. As the first sign in the zodiac, Aries doesn’t fear failure because they live in the now not in the limitations of the past.

To help you on your journey, Kate Protsenko, Head of Tutors at Promova, offers the following tips and tricks.

Read on to learn more.

Tips for kickstarting your language learning goals during Mercury retrograde

Make sure your language learning goals are achievable

Protsenko tells The Post, “Setting goals that are too lofty is a terrible strategy for language learning. Furthermore, falling short of your expectations for yourself can seriously impact your motivation. That’s why it’s so important to set achievable goals. Break big goals into smaller ones. Instead of aiming for something big like achieving B2 in Spanish, shoot for learning ten new words daily or listening to a 20-minute podcast every week. Achieving those milestones will drive you to move forward by triggering the release of dopamine, a ‘feel-good’ hormone that gives a sense of pleasure and plays a critical role in our motivation.”

Ten words a day for dopamine? Can dig.

Learn in small chunks

Protsenko tells The Post that taking a small bites approach to learning increases the human appetite for knowledge, “Smaller portions of content are easier to digest, which reduces the likelihood of cognitive overload and makes learning more accessible and effective. So, instead of cramming several grammar and vocabulary topics into a 60- or 90-minute class, try doing one or two 15-minute learning sessions every day. After these quick lessons, you’ll notice an improvement in memorization and a subtle hunger for more learning.”

Set reminders

Because we live in a fast-paced world that moves at the speed of distraction, Protsenko recommends setting alarms or reminders to keep you on track for achievement.

“Fitting language learning into your schedule in our fast-paced world can be a real challenge, that’s why I recommend setting reminders. You can do it in your virtual calendar or on your phone or let the language learning app you use send push notifications. Whatever you choose will help you remember your goal.”

Celebrate little victories and reward yourself for achievements

A surefire way to accelerate your language acquisitions? Celebrate small successes along the way. Protsenko explains, “Stop neglecting your accomplishments, start noticing your progress, and use positive reinforcement when you achieve a goal. Write down your language learning goals and assign a reward to each one. For instance, once you master the Korean alphabet, you buy yourself a new notebook. Just knowing that making headway in a new language is followed by something you want can take your learning progress to the next level.” 

Take care of your mental health 

Protsenko stresses the importance of a gentle approach to language, especially during the trying transit of Mercury retrograde, “Learning a new language is an exciting yet challenging journey, and prioritizing mental health during this process is essential. Try to see challenges and mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than something negative. The next time you make a mistake, instead of thinking ‘I’m bad at languages,’ interpret it as something you need to and can work on.

In the long run, this will help you develop resilience, perseverance, and a positive attitude toward development, and you’ll be less upset when you make a mistake. Incorporate meditation and deep breathing exercises into your learning routine. For example, take a short walk outside if you’re feeling overwhelmed during a study session — the fresh air and change of scenery can provide a much-needed reset.”

Take breaks 

While it’s important to set goals and keep a consistent pace toward them, Protsenko emphasizes the need for balance and the value of resting the mind. “You won’t do yourself any favors by overloading your brain with information and getting stressed out by the obligation to learn every day.

“As long as the number of days you study is at least twice the number of days you don’t, you’re good.”

Kate Protsenko

If you’re somebody who experiences anxiety about not doing what they’re ‘supposed to do,’ I recommend giving yourself one or two days a week without language learning to calm your mind and prevent anxiety. As long as the number of days you study is at least twice the number of days you don’t, you’re good.”

Find an effective tool to assist your learning 

In terms of resources, and from apps to online classes, there’s never been a better time to get cracking on learning a new language. Protsenko explains, “When you have a step-by-step course with all the necessary content planned out for you, the thought of starting a learning session becomes more pleasant. Find your digital assistant, and you’ll be good to go!”

Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture, and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girl’s guide” to strip clubs, and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.

Read the author’s full story here

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