Using MindMaps to Learn English Vocabulary

Overview of Don't You Dare Read This.

MindMaps are one of my favorite tools for helping students learn new vocabulary. I also frequently use MindMaps to think creatively for other projects that I'm working on. MindMaps help us to learn visually. 

Create a MindMap

Creating a MindMap can take some time. However, it doesn't need to be complicated. A MindMap can be simple:

Take a piece of paper and group vocabulary by theme, for example, school.


  • Who are the people at school?
  • What kind of objects are in the classroom?
  • What are the different types of classes?
  • Which jobs do the people at school have?
  • Which different types of students are there?

Once you have created a MinMap you can expand. For example, from the above example with school, I could create a whole new area for the vocabulary used in each subject.

MindMaps for Work English

Let's apply these concepts to the workplace. If you are learning English in order to improve the English you use at work. You might want to consider the following subjects for a MindMap

  • Titles of Colleagues
  • Titles of Customers / Clients
  • Actions (verbs)
  • Equipment I use Everyday
  • My Responsibilities
  • Important Phrases to Use When Writing Emails

In this example, you could expand on each category. For example, you could branch off categories from "Colleagues" to include what they do, or you could build out the vocabulary for each type of equipment you use at work.

The most important factor is to let your mind guide you as you group vocabulary. You'll not only improve your English vocabulary, but you will quickly gain a better understanding of how the various items in your MindMaps interact.

MindMaps for Important Combinations

Another way to use a MindMap for vocabulary is to focus on grammar constructions when creating your MindMap.

Let's take a look at verb combinations. I could arrange a MindMap using these categories:

  • Verbs + Gerund (ing form - doing)
  • Verbs + Infinitive (to do)
  • Verbs + Pronoun + Base Form (do)
  • Verbs + Pronouns + Infinitive (to do) 

MindMaps for Collocations

Another vocabulary activity that MindMaps can really help with is learning collocations. Collocations are words that are commonly used together. For example, take the word "information". "Information" is a very general term, and we have all sorts of specific types of information. "Information" is also a noun. When working on collocations with nouns there are three main areas of vocabulary to learn: adjectives/verb + noun/noun + verb. Here are the categories for our MindMap:

  • Adjective + Information
  • Information + Noun
  • Verb + Information
  • Information + Verb

You can expand this MindMap on "information" further by exploring specific collocations with "information" used in specific professions.

The next you start focusing on vocabulary, try to start using a MindMap. Start off on a piece of paper and become used to organizing your vocabulary in this manner. Next, start using a MindMap program. This will take some extra time, but you will quickly become used to learning vocabulary with this aid.

Print off a MindMap and show it to some other students. I'm sure they'll be impressed. Perhaps, your grades will start improving as well. In any case, using MindMaps will certainly make learning new vocabulary in English much easier than just writing down words on a list!

Now that you understand the use of MindMaps, you can download a free version to create your own MindMaps by searching for "Freemind", an easy-to-use open source software program.

Now that you understand how to use MindMaps for learning new vocabulary and grammar, you'll need some help on how to create vocabulary lists. Teachers can use this reading comprehension MindMapping lesson to help students apply these technics in reading to help improve comprehension.