It's been years since I got to know Tony Buzan's Mindmapping technology. Then I discovered Vera F. Birkenbihl using it also for language learning. So in April 2019 I took an interesting course in mindmapping for educational purposes. During these challenging times I have had plenty of time to draw my own mindmaps and apply what I have learnt so far. And due to my speciality it had to be mindmaps about the structure of a language - word formation and grammar.
According to Vera F. Birkenbihl memorizing vocabulary and studying grammar rules is non-conductive to truely learning a language. The best strategy for learning vocabulary is to decode the texts oneself, as I had done in my experiment with Chinese. For those, who don't have the time or patience to do that themselves, I have prepared decoded work books for learning Japanese (for German native speakers). For language study, you would then read the word-by-word translation in this material while listening to the audio until you understand the dialogues without the translation.
Making Grammar Visible
There is another feature to be found in the decoded work books as well as in the recreating materials: With colored lines and letters grammar is made visible. For Japanese we don't need that many differnt colors as there aren't so many different types of word as in German or English for example. So you are able to see at a glance how the various parts of the sentence are put together. Grammar is indicated in colored letters and the meaning of those syllables can be found in the translation right underneath. Human beings are inherently capable of destilling the rules from a vast number of experiences or examples. We have uncouciously done so when we learnt our mother tongue. Decoding provides a bridge between our existing knowledge and the new language.
Mindmaps Display Grammar in a Systematic Way
At school we learnt to analyze Grammar in a systematic way and at least in Germany there is also special vocabulary derived from Latin to be learnt. This knowledge then becomes the framework for learning the grammar rules of foreign languages. The different elements are presented in small portions and the students rarely get a complete overview of how the orchestra works together to present a rich narrative.
At Gateway to Language Learning we have been using mindmaps successfully in our activation courses. On one hand you can see the complete context and have an overview of the different forms of a verb for example. On the other hand such a mindmap can also be used as a playing board to distribute more vocabulary cards spacially. That way grammar can literally be grasped!
Besides using completely finished mindmaps and games with a mindmap type of board, there also is the technique of preparing mindmaps only in form but without the words. So the structure of the topic is given and the student then can fill in the words himself or herself from the texts he is working with. So he actually is discovering the structure of the language himself.
So if you are learning Japanese: Try out my new mindmaps which can be purchased in the web-shop. When registering for the newsletter you can even select a newsletter in English!