Language learning as an adult with ADHD

As someone who has struggled with ADHD for much of my life, I’ve often wondered about its impact on my ability to learn a foreign language. Eight years ago, I moved to Italy and began learning Italian. Despite being 35 at the time, I found it exciting and enjoyed the process. However, when I later moved to Basel and attempted to learn German, I found it virtually impossible and still can’t speak a word of it today. In contrast, learning French in the French-speaking part of Switzerland was a lot easier.

After reflecting on my language learning experiences, I’ve realized that ADHD can certainly impact our ability to learn a foreign language. ADHD can affect our executive functioning skills such as working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. Additionally, symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity can make it difficult to pay attention and stay focused in a classroom or meeting setting.

One of the biggest challenges for those with ADHD is disorganization, which can lead to problems such as not remembering to do homework or being unable to find notes. This can be especially challenging for younger learners. Impulsivity is another issue that can make it difficult to focus on schoolwork or projects, as it can lead to procrastination or impulsively deciding to do something else instead of completing an assignment.

Another symptom of ADHD that can make language learning more difficult is a lack of attention to details. This can be problematic when listening to instructions or reading a question, as it can lead to missing important information or not fully understanding the task at hand.

Despite these challenges, it’s important to remember that ADHD itself isn’t a learning difficulty. It’s simply a condition that can impact our ability to learn. And, with the right strategies and accommodations, it’s possible to overcome these obstacles and excel in language learning.

I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on this topic because there isn’t much information available about the relationship between ADHD and language learning. I plan to do more research on this subject and would love to hear from others who may have had similar experiences. Let’s start a conversation about how ADHD may impact language learning and find ways to overcome these challenges.


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