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Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

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Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby Shiroisan » Fri 04.12.2013 3:49 am

Are there any Japanese learners or masters out there with ADD? I've been pondering the capabilities of a person with ADD holding down thousands of kanji with tens of thousands of readings, and was wondering if anyone can speak from experience?

Does it make it harder? Manageable? Or perhaps ADD can somehow make it easier?

I'd like to hear not just from people with ADD if you have any anecdotes or something to add as well. The reason I ask- I've been considering starting medication to help focus, but generally speaking would like to avoid it.

I found it was MUCH easier to concentrate when everything was new and exciting, and I wasn't learning redundant useless words to which I already know 5 synonyms of. The less unique things are the more challenging/ impossible this becomes for me. I have the same problem not just with identical meanings but identical pronounciations. こうか, for example, is driving me nuts right now. How many more meanings of this pronounciation do I have to try to cling to before I give up exactly?
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby Ongakuka » Fri 04.12.2013 9:29 am

I don't have ADD, so I can't give you a satisfactory response, but I can give my personal opinion. If you don't want to take any medication (and there it is not a necessity) I think you shouldn't take it. The difficulties you are going through are exactly the same for all students of Japanese.

As you say, it starts of exciting and you are able to make fast progress, but gradually the hill gets steeper and steeper and you are faced with a seemingly impossible task of learning endless words, many of which are pronounced the same but with difficult Kanji.

When you reach this level, it is time to stop studying Japanese. That is no joke. It means you got good, good enough to start enjoying it and improving from your involvement with the language. This will help you to naturally assimilate new content and eventually distinguish words through context. Remember, words with the same pronunciation can be very confusing for Japanese speakers as well. The only difference is that they are familiar with all (or at least most) of the possibilities. All we have to do is become familiar ourselves.

Sorry for writing a long but probably irrelevant response. For some reason I do this when I'm tired..
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Fri 04.12.2013 4:47 pm

I probably have ADD, though it wasn't something that was tested for when I was in school so I was never diagnosed... but everyone with ADD and everyone with a psych minor or major thinks I have it.

Anyway, I don't know of any advantages really - admittedly, sometimes I can get lost in hyperfocus and just build vocabulary for hours, or get lost in reading for hours, but I don't know of any way to -control- whether I'll be hyperfocused or distracted. I do try to keep plenty of options on my computer desktop and my phone, and probably have a Japanese book in every room, which pretty much insures that I'll do Japanese stuff all the time.

It's certainly not impossible, but it took me much longer. Then again, I made some terrible mistakes in my approach (trying to learn the kanji in grade order and memorize the readings separately from vocabulary ... which accomplished nothing but wasting time and discouraging me, of course), and I was never able to keep track of my physical flashcards. Now that I've got Anki, at least I have a core of vocabulary that I'll never lose track of.

As for things like こうか, the differences should be obvious in context, and that's one reason that I have a context sentence for every anki card, and I have both a kana and a kanji version of every card, so I'd drill myself on for example, こうかで支払う/硬化で支払う and こうかを歌う/校歌を歌う.

I don't know if it's related to ADD or is something else about my learning style, but it helps me to have both types of question and to have the kanji-questions require me to type my answers. A lot of people seem perfectly happy having an isolated Japanese word on one side of their card and an isolated English word on the other side.

In any case, what Ongakuka said. I recommend lots of reading. It doesn't have to be books (although they are good), if you're an anime watcher, read scripts or Japanese language subtitles, if you're into the music read the lyrics for anything you listen to. There's various ways to pull the dialogue out of video games (or find it online already pulled out). Reading along with speech is very helpful (in fact, there's a lot of people who studying purely through L-R - Listening-Reading - techniques.) There's no way that you can quiz yourself on all of the patterns that the words 'き', 'こうか', 'かける', and so on might show up in, you have to feel the patterns by experience.

As for medication, if your ADD causes substantial difficulty in getting on in life, I don't think you should be afraid of it. I haven't taken ADD medication (although perhaps I should... ) but I've been on and off anti-depressants. You -should- be aware of any physical side effects of any medication you take, it's not worth ruining your liver or suchlike. However, it's easy to be irrationally afraid of psychiatric medications. It -is- true that it will change the way you think, but in the case of ADD in particular that really means letting you think more clearly.
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby Shiroisan » Sat 04.13.2013 8:15 am

Thanks very much for the replies, both of you. It's stirring my thinking pot.

SomeCallMeChris wrote:Anyway, I don't know of any advantages really - admittedly, sometimes I can get lost in hyperfocus and just build vocabulary for hours, or get lost in reading for hours, but I don't know of any way to -control- whether I'll be hyperfocused or distracted.


This was exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of in terms of advantages. However, likewise I have quite literally no way of controlling it and ever since I've gotten into more intermediate/advanced Japanese it's NEVER on my side anymore.

I swear, I will sit down with some study material thinking I'm about to go through it, then all of a sudden I have an urge to find out whether or not penguins have knees, how they can hide such long legs under their bellies and yet still have a diaphragm, and what sort of species they must have evolved from, and what someone who studies birds are called and what degrees they usually have and yadayadayada. Suddenly it's 30 - 45 minutes later and I forgot I was trying to study Japanese in the first place!? This is a daily- no- hourly occurrence.

As for things like こうか, the differences should be obvious in context, and that's one reason that I have a context sentence for every anki card, and I have both a kana and a kanji version of every card, so I'd drill myself on for example, こうかで支払う/硬化で支払う and こうかを歌う/校歌を歌う.


My problem with that is, if I create a context and sentence surrounding a word, usually I don't even need to see what the Japanese word itself is to know the exact meaning of whatever I inserted would be. For basic example:

猫は「」が好きです。

I don't even need to read 「ねずみ」to know that I wrote 'mouse' there, since I will remember making that card, so chances are my brain won't even try to remember the pronounciation of mouse.

Reading along with speech is very helpful (in fact, there's a lot of people who studying purely through L-R - Listening-Reading - techniques.)


Quite recently I stumbled across this method, and on the surface it sounds like a FANTASTIC idea, however after not being able to find study material, I questioned why there would be Japanese subtitles supplied for Japanese media in the first place? Anime, for example, I've yet to find any that have japanese subtitles built into it, and it's difficult to follow scripts that are separated from the video itself... Do you know of any media resources in particular that have both the japanese audio and subtitles built in together? I even tried inputting .srt subtitle files separately into a video but ran into technical difficulties doing so...
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Sat 04.13.2013 5:04 pm

Shiroisan wrote:I swear, I will sit down with some study material thinking I'm about to go through it, then all of a sudden I have an urge to find out whether or not penguins have knees...

Well, you can try looking things like that up on the Japanese wikipedia instead of the English one! I'm not sure if you're just -very- ADD, or if it's just that you don't get much pleasure out of studying right now. The more something is an unpleasant chore the more I find other things that just -have- to have attention right now. The best (only?) way that I clean my apartment is when something that's more of a chore is waiting for my attention. Anyway, when it comes to Japanese, you can get your footing back by choosing more enjoyable ways to study, or starting your study with something more enjoyable.
猫は「」が好きです。

I don't even need to read 「ねずみ」to know that I wrote 'mouse' there,

I don't have any sentences like that, which looks like something you could construct yourself out of the first couple chapters of your text. I take my sentences from dictionary examples, ALC (eijiro), tatoeba.org, or if I really can't find an example out there, I'll simply put the sentence where I originally encountered the word in. When it's someone else's sentence, it's not as easy to remember every word, and when you have -thousands- of sentences, you can't remember the context to all of them. It's true there are times when I know the word before I encounter it in the sentence just from the context, but, most of the time I don't, and there's no words that I have where I remember -every- time. Once a card matures out to 3 months, the sentence is going to look really unfamiliar when you see it again.

Do you know of any media resources in particular that have both the japanese audio and subtitles built in together? I even tried inputting .srt subtitle files separately into a video but ran into technical difficulties doing so...

I believe you can find Japanese subtitled Anime from kamigami.org, as well as from digital broadcast streams and -some- imported DVDs. I generally get my subtitles for anime from http://kitsunekko.net/subtitles/japanese/; I can watch them with VLC media player only if I use the 'Microsoft YaHei' ; I don't understand why. I read some BS about unicode order or something, but no other programs displaying unicode Japanese fonts has this problem. There's probably a better option out there. You also have to keep in mind what the keystrokes are for adjusting the timing of the subtitles if you have a file timed for television with commercials on the one hand and a DVD on the other hand.

Anyway, I don't generally watch with subtitles anymore, but instead, after watching the anime I'll go back and just (mostly) listen to it while reading the subtitle file. (it helps that I can split screen between the laptop's own screen and the monitor, so I can have the video playing off to one side while I read even though I'm not really watching it except in the long silences, or rather, long periods without speech.)

The proper 'L-R' technique would iirc be to read the English, then read the Japanese, then read the Japanese while listening to it. Of course, if you're not careful, you could just end up watching English subtitled anime and then not going back! If there's something on kitsunekko that you've already seen, that might help you get started without having to watch things twice or three times in a row.

You can, of course, L-R with https://www.erin.ne.jp/ or hukumusume.com or this site's yuki monogatari, if you just need easy to access material and it doesn't need to be anime. Or you can just watch anime with Japanese subtitles and not worry about 'proper' L-R techniques.
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby Shiroisan » Sat 04.13.2013 11:56 pm

I can watch them with VLC media player only if I use the 'Microsoft YaHei' ; I don't understand why. I read some BS about unicode order or something, but no other programs displaying unicode Japanese fonts has this problem. There's probably a better option out there.


I ran into the same problem with vlc, the subtitles were blank squares that weren't even timed correctly, tried to fix it for a bit then gave up. perhaps it's the same solution you had but have no idea how to get/use the right font. i just googled that font on microsoft's website and there was no download button T_T

You can, of course, L-R with https://www.erin.ne.jp/ or hukumusume.com or this site's yuki monogatari, if you just need easy to access material and it doesn't need to be anime.


I will look into it, thanks
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Re: Learning Japanese with Attention Deficit Disorder

Postby melandar » Fri 12.20.2013 5:35 pm

Hello. I dont have ADD but would respectfully suggest that you approach this issue in a slightly different way. I would recommend not at all trying to take in all meanings of any one kana word or kanji, but rather to take in new kana or kanji as they appear with the one particular meaning in the context of that reading passage. The same would apply to audio as well. To that end, this website is particularly suited.
For example, when it comes to reading, I am still very much a beginner in kanji reading, so I use downloaded japanese reading from this site and extract passages from some books I have which contain everyday language wherever found. I read through and note the furigana if shown and check the dictionary. Having read some of the passage should enable me to select the correct meaning from multiple meanings.
I then use a flashcard app in which I make up a complete list of these unknown kanji in exactly the form they appeared in the reading so for a kanji verb for example it would have the attached kana to illustrate verb tense or form. This way over time I read, and reinforce through the flashcards the most regular kanji and in their most used forms and by definition will naturally introduce the least used meanings at a later time when by then I already know the common and regular ones.
I would tentatively suggest to treat your ADD with a developed mindset that denies its affect on you. I mean in the sense that learning japanese is expectedly and wonderfully difficult . I.e. being difficult is certainly part of the enjoyment when every now and then you make a series of mini break throughs of understanding.
Regards,
Chris
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