Mind mapping to learn a language

Learn a language with mind mapping

Creating mind maps or mind mapping is using a paper and pencil to draw out maps of connections between two or more ideas. You can use mind maps to learn a language with grammatical ideas, vocabulary and even conversational ideas such as question and answer. Mind maps look like neurons and dendrites or trees. This is not by coincidence. It is a refection how natural structures create connetion, including your memory. Each person draws a mind map in a different way. Some are clean and orderly others seem to be pure chaos. It does not matter. Your style of mind mapping is your style. You can use colors, pictures or whatever you want to make your mind map beautiful or fun.

Mind mapping and language learning

For me personally, I use mind maps to learn target vocabulary in a language. These mind maps often contain phonetics, and word building, but most important categorization. I am not good at drawing pictures, but I add a few once in a while. My mind maps are more like mazes with starting and ending points and many entrances and exits.

For example I will have a mind map with ten entry points, let us way for example connected with transportation vocabulary. For transportation, vocabulary I might have choices or verbs or nouns or adjectives connected with transportation, this route on my mind maps could wind all over the place, with further subcategories and pictures of lady friends and roads until I find an exit.

Mind mapping software or by hand to learn a language

How can mind mapping help you learn a language? Read on. There are a number of free mind mapping software programs on the market. I like one by ‘eDraw’. However, at the end of the day would you rather be sitting in front the computer to mind map or with a paper and colorful pencils? This is what you have to ask yourself. I do a little of both, and certainly my software mind maps look better as I can not draw. But I think I prefer mind mapping by hand. Further, I think its more effective when you are mind mapping by hand to learn a language. Do not ask me why, but in my experience, some how drawing or writing by hand really helps the learning process when trying to learn a language.

Why mind mapping works

I do not believe there are any magic pills to learn a language, except maybe with music; however, I think the act of mind mapping is what helps you learn a language. Creating drawing and planning your mind map is a fun break from learning a word list. Physically drawing the words and thinking about it is why mind mapping works. Maybe there are other reasons, but I have been learning and teaching languages for years and I believe every-way is a good way to learn a language and there are no great secrets other than putting the time in. However, if you enjoy what you are doing than the time you spend will seem like play or no time at all. Further there are efficient ways to learn a language and inefficient ways to learn a language. I think mind mapping is one of the more efficient ways to learn a language.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

9 thoughts on “Mind mapping to learn a language”

  1. Thanks for the excellent article. I am going to France in a few months and this could really help me. I use NovaMind for my mind mapping almost every day and find it a fantastic tool, but haven’t thought to use it for learning French.


  2. What an interesting way to use mind mapping. I swear by the benefits of mind mapping and use it all of the time, usually involving business, but I would have never thought to use it for learning a new language. This is a great idea, very creative. Was there anything in particular that led you to doing this, or did you just come up with the thought? Excellent post, thank you for sharing.

  3. @Thom If you are looking for example on mind mapping for langauges there has been a lot written and images that show language mind maps can be found easy on the web. But a lot of mind mapping things are trying to sell you something. I think the key thing is with mind mapping is use your own imagination. The structure of the mind map should be a reflection of you.

  4. I still don’t quite understand how to organize a mindmap for language learning. Perhaps you could show an example?

  5. I need samples of templates of grammar lessons in mindmaps. Please share some with me. I need them badly for my students. Thanks a million.

  6. Agnes, mindmaps you have to create as each language and level is different. Every class is different. Mindmaps are easy to create. If you can not create them with mind mapping software use paint.net for mindmapping free hand.

  7. Hello !!!! ^_^
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)

  8. About mind mapping. I do believe this is the new era in more effective communication by use of visual aids like mind mapping.

    Two programs I use, one is free, are Free Mind (freeware) which has a Java by Sun (free) requirement to install. This allows for hiding many levels and unfolding them as required, and is intuitive to use with a few commands to get you going. It also has another addon for a browser, so that you can share them online by MSIE. The benefit of this is the fold and unfold of deeper connections. You can read more about it and get download links from Wikipedia.

    The other is called i2brain, and is a 30 day trial shareware, which also has a very visual presentation. It has many more levels I have not used, and comes with help using it’s own format. It does however have some minor bugs with positioning and printing, but you can get around these by allowing for them. IE when you drag and drop a bubble it drops down a few pixels and to the right, so you put it up a few pixels and the left of where you want it. 😉

    There are others as well. But it’s something to get used to. Words fall far short. However I have found that they can get complicated, and hiding much detail is a good thing to reveal as the user gets used to what is there, or else it can “seem like” information overload at first glance. (it is important the mind is not overwhelmed in order to function and process what is in front of it.)

    Once familiar, you can show a lot quickly, and best show the relevant parts and explain them, before moving on and guiding the viewer, so you impart what you mean to them, rather than try and get them to figure it out. After all, as the author said, we all do it differently. (Listening is a skill we all need as well 😉

  9. You mentioned that there is no magic pill except perhaps for music. Can you explain that a bit more? It seems to me that music is identical in every way to a language. For example you read (notation), write (compose), speak (perform/sing), listen (attending performances/chilling with iPod). You can communicate ideas and with the right amount of training understand with efficacy some ideas of others. Not trying to jump on you or anything, I am just curious as to what this magic pill is, and if it really exists, why it cannot be applied to language acquisition in other areas.

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