Using mind-Mapping as a transition from receptive to productive skills for second-degree learners

Abstract: Mindmapping, as a powerful brainstorming tool, is gaining popularity in all fields of science.

This article aims at suggesting various activities enclosed with explanations of how this useful utility can be

applied for a smooth transition from receptive skills to productive skills while teaching English. As mind maps

only date back to 1976, the article initially provides an overview into how to use them and how well they

suit the group of grown-up learners. The third part of the article introduces the researcher’s own organization

of twelve academic themes throughout the learners’ course. The most important part of the article involves

an analysis of various examples of classroom mind maps as they are combined with various activities in

classroom settings of various levels throughout the course, highlighting the shifting from one receptive skill

to the corresponding productive skill with groups of learners’ contributions to the maps. Last but not least, in

the conclusion part, both the summary of the work and some recommendations would be presented about the

challenges teachers may encounter and thus should expect during the implementation process.

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evel B1 – Intermediate
170 T.T. Thu/ VNU Journal of Foreign Studies, Vol.35, No.1 (2019) 155-173
For instance, with a writing question 
with the test question: ‘What do you think 
of this statement: “People nowadays are 
more dependent on technology.”,’ the teacher 
asked learners to fi nd the key words and work 
together in small groups of 3 or 4 and discuss 
how they should develop ideas and add more 
vocabulary items on to the map. The following 
is a good example of a group who have done 
an excellent job.
Figure 19. Board photo of activity in class (number 2): Writing skills: Group work for learners 
of Level B2 – Intermediate
Figure 20. Board photo of a speaking activity in class (number 3): Writing skills: Group work 
for learners of Level B2 – Upper-intermediate
In this activity, learners have an inquiry of 
matching their supporting ideas with the big 
themes the vocabulary items of which can be 
used in their speeches. The numbers 3, 4, 5, 
6, 10, 12 can actually serve as suggestion for 
students of lower level: before they can come 
up with ideas, the teacher can suggest them 
think about the main themes they have learnt 
and try to connect the topics of the questions 
to the main themes.
Figure 21. Board photo of a speaking activity in class (number 3): Writing skills: Group work 
for learners of Level B2 – Upper-intermediate
171VNU Journal of Foreign Studies, Vol.35, No.1 (2019) 155-173
Within the speaking lesson, this activity 
can actually be a good example of a test 
preparation one. The core mind maps are 
actually from a real speaking test, part 3, 
with the topic of “there are several reasons 
why people choose to live in a big cities”. 
This activity is a class activity with a student 
playing the role of the secretary. Anybody in 
the class can contribute, and the teacher would 
correct or make comment when necessary.
 Figure 22. Board photo of activity in class (number 3): Writing skills: Group work for learners 
of Level B2 – Intermediate
This is an example of a mind map playing 
the role of the transition from Reading (a 
receptive skill) to Writing (the corresponding 
productive skill). Learners can make use of 
the language items they could remember from 
the previous activity and contribute to it using 
their own knowledge and experience. Relating 
to themselves was highly encouraging as can 
be observed in the classroom. 
With the kind of organization of 
comparing and contrast, it is benefi cial to note 
the students that they may have to face the 
same structures in all the four skills and it is 
safer to brainstorm a mind map so that they 
can organize their ideas better, as in VSTEP 
speaking test they also have one minute each 
to prepare for part 2 and part 3 of the test. As 
the ideas are so clear, the teacher here can play 
the role of a participants and allow the learners 
to have more freedom in deciding their ideas, 
suggestions and corrections may be provided 
afterwards as feedback. 
Figure 23. Board photo of activity in class (number 3): Writing skills: Group work for learners 
of Level B2 – Intermediate
172 T.T. Thu/ VNU Journal of Foreign Studies, Vol.35, No.1 (2019) 155-173
With the type of questions which require 
learners to compare two kinds of means of 
transport, the teacher may choose to suggest 
them focus on the nature of the subject (in 
this case ‘young people’). It can be seen 
from the picture that on the top they actually 
indicate clearly not only the key words but 
also the relationship among the items, using 
very good symbols. This table is also a form 
of mind map but its format was adjusted to 
fit the requirements of the lesson: choose the 
appropriate supporting idea for each main idea, 
indicating the appropriateness with arrows. 
5. Conclusion 
This part of the article will demonstrate 
the summary and provide some suggestion 
for fellow teachers while applying this tool in 
their teaching.
In applying the method to various groups 
of students of all the levels from A1 to C1, the 
question was not whether the teacher should 
make use of the useful tool; rather, it naturally 
shifted to the question of how should be 
applied in specific situations. The fourth part 
of this article was dedicated to achieve that. 
As beneficial as it is, when applying the 
tool to classroom setting, there are certain 
challenges for teachers throughout the process. 
First and foremost, they need to be prepared 
for all kinds of unexpected responses from 
their experienced learners and thus searching 
the internet in advance and constant build-up 
of background knowledge on various topics 
would be obligatory.
Secondly, they may have to be ready for all 
kinds of questions, most of them concerning 
the reasons why they should put a supporting 
idea or an example into a branch of main idea. 
This requires high level of critical thinking 
and logic.
Another challenge is the required 
flexibility and quick response from the side 
of the teachers. There are often more than 20 
students in one group and the teacher has to 
elicit, analyze, select ideas, and organize them 
into the correct branches, while determining 
whether or not the learners could come up 
with proper main ideas, persuading them to 
use certain supporting details and not others.
Though the tool can be rather challenging, 
applying them in real classroom setting can be 
very rewarding as it inspires both teachers and 
learners to be creative and thus stay motivated 
throughout the process. The reporter highly 
recommends the use of this useful tool in a 
large scale.
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Trần Thanh Thư
Khoa Đào tạo và Bồi dưỡng Ngoại ngữ, Trường Đại học Ngoại ngữ, ĐHQGHN, 
Phạm Văn Đồng, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội, Việt Nam
Tóm tắt: Sơ đồ tư duy, một công cụ hữu ích cho người học, đang ngày càng được ứng dụng 
rộng rãi trong nhiều ngành khoa học. Chính vì vậy, mục tiêu của bài viết này là chia sẻ các hoạt 
động áp dụng sơ đồ tư duy vào việc dạy từ vựng tiếng Anh. Trước tiên, bài báo sẽ có những giới 
thiệu tổng quan cách sử dụng sơ đồ tư duy cũng như cách áp dụng trong các hoạt động gắn với từ 
vựng. Bài báo sẽ trình bày cách chia nhóm đối với mười hai chủ đề lớn bao trùm nội dung trong 
chương trình học của học viên. Phần tiếp theo, cũng là phần quan trọng nhất, sẽ đưa ra những phân 
tích về các sơ đồ tư duy đã được sử dụng trong lớp học cũng như cách kết hợp chúng với các hoạt 
động cụ thể trong giờ học, qua đó, có những đề xuất để giải quyết các vấn đề mà người dạy có thể 
gặp phải trong quá trình áp dụng.
Từ khóa: sơ đồ tư duy, từ vựng tiếng Anh, việc áp dụng trên lớp học, thách thức đối với giáo viên

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