How to use a mind map to learn new vocabulary

24 September 20206 mins read

What if we told you there was a great visual way you can learn (and remember) new English words? When we introduce new vocabulary in class, we create as many opportunities as possible to help you use those words in different contexts. But how easy is it to recall those words in your head? Not always easy.

Why should I learn new vocabulary?

The answer seems pretty obvious, right? Learn new vocabulary so I can communicate better in that language. You’re right!

But did you know that if you grasp around 3000 words of the English language, you can pretty much understand around 84% of English (that’s around a B1/B2 language level that can help you pass you Cambridge Exams!). But if you set your goals higher, and learn around 7500 words, you could understand up to 92% of English.

How can I memorise new vocabulary?

So if you have a lesson on Monday, what can you do to help you easily speak and write with them by Friday? Well, there are plenty of memory techniques we can try – let’s start with mind mapping.

Mind mapping (sometimes called ‘spider grams’ because they might look like a spider) is a visual tool which organises items into categories or themes. They work in a similar way to our brains (hence the name) because when we group related things together, we remember them better.

A mind map is super easy to create. All you need is somewhere to write down your thoughts – it could be your journal, your iPad Pro and Apple Pencil or even a big network of Post It notes stuck on a wall! Just make sure you have room to spread out and explore your ideas.

Using a mind map to learn English

  • Try working in landscape view (turn your notebook or ipad horizontally). This gives you plenty of room to add more words later
  • Draw a shape or an image in the middle and write your main topic of vocabulary. For example: words related to EATING or BUSINESS or THE HUMAN BODY
  • Next, think about sub-categories for the main topic you have selected. For example, in the case of EATING, your sub-categories may be EATING OUT, FOOD, COOKING etc
  • Draw lines (branches) going out of your main topic or image and use these categories to create bubbles., then create more branches of these to link your new vocabulary

Be as creative as you can. The more you find ways to ‘connect’ these words, the better you will memorise and retain that memory in the long-term.

Here is a fantastic example of how a student uses an app to create her own mind map notes. Why don’t you try one for yourself?