Mind Maps: How to Use Mind Maps to Teach Difficult Grammar Points
If you are a language teacher, you probably already use mind maps to help your students learn vocabulary. These mind maps are sometimes called “vocabulary networks” or “word maps.” A popular use of these mind maps is to organize vocabulary groups, for example, their central topic is “food” and their subtopics are “meat”, “fruits”, “vegetables” and so on. Another way could be to associate the various nouns, adjectives and verbs with their central theme, for example, television, program, movie, turn on, watch, interesting, boring …
But have you considered using mind maps to teach grammar points? Anyone with a TEFL score will be familiar with using concept questions to help students understand a complicated element of English grammar. For example, when giving advice, an English speaker invariably uses the modal verbs should or should to. There are likely no equivalent verbs in your students’ language, so you should ask questions about concepts to verify that they understand:
You should see a doctor
- Is it mandatory to consult a doctor? – Not
- Is it a good idea to see a doctor? – Yes
By answering these two questions, the student has a good idea of when to use should. But putting these questions on a mind map will help your student visualize the concepts and retain them for future use. In my classes, I write two questions next to each other and circle them. The questions are: “Is it necessary?” and “Is it allowed?” So I start to make my mind map by writing the only two possible answers, yes or no? Then I try to get the modal verbs, I must, I must not, I have to, I do not have to, I can, I cannot, according to the answer, and I write them in the appropriate place on the mind map.
Perhaps my explanations here are not really clear. That is exactly why mind maps are a better way to help your students visualize concepts. You can try explaining until you feel sad, but a simple diagram does the trick quickly and effectively. You can see an example of a mind map that I created on my site; actually, a picture paints a thousand words!
Think about which grammar points you have trouble teaching and begin to develop conceptual questions that you can put on a mind map. For my French students, the present perfect causes infinite confusion, because they use the same construction to talk about completed past actions: yesterday, I went to the cinema. What concept questions do you think might help them see the difference between “I was” and “I was”? It is up to you to use your imagination!