Learning Japanese being ADHD

Except nobody was making excuses not to read and learn from native content, and sometimes when people say things are difficult for them, that means those things are actually difficult for them, more so than for others. Nobody’s claiming it’s easy for others either, for that matter. But there’s a difference between “it’s a chore but I have to just push through it” and “my brain is literally not letting me do this.” Or to form a more intuitive example, running a marathon isn’t easy for anyone but it’s a damn sight harder with a broken leg.

What the point is is that learning from native materials is (or can be) different with ADHD. And I fail to see how that’s in any way an excuse.

What the trap is is not reading itself, it’s the idea that it is the two-step process you drew up. It’s not. Each of those steps consists of a bunch of others, each of which takes executive function and offers yet another opportunity to get distracted, and that’s just the part before you’ve even done a single review. What exactly is the problem with acknowledging that ADHD gets in the way of that specific process, and that maybe a different, simpler process is probably more effective for us, allowing us to learn more from native materials, not less?


I think if you’re using something like Yomichan, then looking up words and adding Anki cards is a one-step process which is ADD-friendly.

It can be, sure (once you get yourself to actually set it up, which can take a while - ask me how I know), but:

Same would go for physical books. And even a one-step process adds another step to reading basically every other word, early on. That adds up.

And that doesn’t cover actually doing the reviews either. Which, if you do them, absolutely perfect - but I personally can’t always (or even usually, lately) get myself to.

And once you have a bit more of a foundation for reading - which is really all that was being argued for - you end up most of the time just being able to read, without having to add every other word to an Anki deck. That’s a zero-step process, doesn’t get much more ADD-friendly than that :slight_smile:


I was kind of “exaggerating it” in a sense, but only to try to communicate the way it feels engaging in it with an ADHD brain.

You can set up workflows that make it easier, but still, to me the amount of executive function necessary for engaging with reading when you’re at a very low level is too much to sustain Japanese language learning through “immersion” for a long enough time to make it practical. It works well for “good brain days” when you’re managing yourself well and you can actually make yourself do things you want to do and you actually focus on the things you want to focus on. But it is easy to get overwhelmed and then just… not study for a month.

What I’ve tried to do and what works for me is to have at least 1 premade resource on hand to study through SRS such as the Core deck, Wanikani, or JALUP. Set a very minimal, manage-able goal for adding new cards/reviews, and then say that at the very least I’ll do that every day. That way, at the very least, I’m studying something every day.

Then from there, when I’m having a good brain day, I’ll do things like read and sentence mine, or watching anime, etc.

I’ve started reading much more often now, but I’ve been studying Japanese for a while (my Wanikani level isn’t indicative of my overall Japanese ability, though it is decently indicative of my kanji knowledge). When I first started learning Japanese every time I’d try to learn purely by immersion, it would work great for like a week and then I’d get overwhelmed, lose interest, etc.

At this point, I can more or less pick up a book and read and enjoy it without spending too much time in a dictionary. And so now it no longer feels like much of a chore.

I’m not saying you can’t start immersion early or even right away, just that believing that you can rely on it from zero and not use any other resources is probably not great advice for people who have terrible executive function.


Well, that’s just kind of ADHD though. Almost everything people with ADHD struggle with are things everyone struggles with sometimes or to some degree, it is just the intensity and frequency of it.

But as with… remembering where you put your wallet… “just try harder” isn’t really helpful advice.

This is true. There’s lots you can do to make it more ADHD friendly. I just mean, I don’t think it is wise to rely on reading only. Or at the very least, I think it is wise to be aware of the fact that this is something that will be inherently harder for us, and to keep that in mind when we hear people saying, “I became fluent in Japanese in 1 year by reading manga!”


Thanks for the good reply. Well, up until the “just try harder” part at least…

I still am not sure though. I am a part of the three biggest immersion learning communities I know of honestly, and none of them actually suggest you just do immersion from 0. The people I have talked to within those communities on an individual level also feel thats a bad idea, so Im not sure where you’re hearing that from. I think its terrible advice for everyone to say you should.

But I still disagree that it makes sense for ADHD people to put off learning from native material as their primary source for longer than non-adhd people because its not as effective. The jump to native material is hard for everyone, and its tough, but people do it because of the benefits of that method of studying. When it comes down to actually trying to understand native content, which is the mechanism by which you learn, I dont think there are any significant barriers presented that wouldnt be presented by using wanikani as a result of your adhd.

So regardless, In this aspect of language learning I don’t think there is any real difference between how people with ADHD and people without it should go about it. I think ADHDs significance is just how it impacts how you might move within the same general framework.

Im not saying try harder, Im saying excuses are excuses. When I hear someone say their ADHD is the reason why their putting off native material (to any extent), what I personally interpret that as is even if they didn’t have ADHD they would still put native material off and just give some other reason. I’ve heard them all. You’re really not gonna convince me otherwise, my man