Background of the Study
Language is one of the main features that human being is characterized with, so it is a social as well as an individual phenomenon that enables man to express his feelings, thoughts and culture. In the age of globalization where the world has become a small village, people tend to learn each other’s languages. In spite of the fact that the demand for learning new languages has increased, the history of teaching and learning foreign languages often appears to have been a history of failure (Kara, 1992). In the process of learning a foreign language four major skills ; speaking, listening, writing and reading should be learnt. However, there are two sub-skills that are essential for mastering those skills, grammar and vocabulary. The focus of this study is on grammar.
Palmer (1971) believes grammar is being taught in the schools from early ages , many learners think that grammar is a boring school subject and children usually s pared the boredom because the teaching of grammar in schools depends on teaching the rules . Kohli (1999) sees that grammar is the subject of criticism, because there is no correlation between teaching grammar and learners’ ? improvement in writing English , Teachers also were criticized because of the ways , techniques or methods that they use in teaching grammar . Lewis (1986) sees that teachers of foreign languages usually commit a mistake when they think that the most important part of their job is to explain the rules of grammar.
Fromkin & Rodman (1993) claim human being who speaks a language knows its grammar, and knowing the grammar of the target language will help you as a communicator to communicate easily with others, so knowledge of grammar enhances communication which is the ultimate goal of teaching any language.
According to Brown (2002), “a mind map is an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It allows you to visually structure your ideas and helps you with analysis and recall” (p.56). A mind map is a diagram for representing tasks, words, minds, or items linked to and arranged around a central mind or subject using a non-linear graphical layout. It allows the user to build an intuitive framework around a central mind. A mind map can turn a long list of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of doing things (Richards, 2007).
Juall ; Moyet (2005) maintain that mind map is an educational technique that uses diagrams to demonstrate the relation of one mind or situation, by linking a central mind to another one, and it helps the learners to understand the certain points better. So mind maps are presented as a pyramids seen from above and they are arranged hierarchically with the super ordinate minds at the top of the map and subordinate at the bottom which are less inclusive than higher ones (Ahlberg ;Vukko, 2004) .
Novak ; Can?s (2006: 17) see that mind maps as graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They includes concepts usually closed in circles or boxes of some type and relationships between concepts indicated by connecting or linking two concepts or words on line , referred to as linking words or linking phrase . The link between the concepts can be one-way or non-directional. The concepts and the links may be categorized and the concept may show temporal or casual relationships between concepts (Fitzgerald, 1999).
Leou ; Liu (2004) suggest that learning can be enhanced if learning involves interaction, student-centered and engaging activities when learners construct their understanding rather than more traditional methods of teacher-centered direct instruction in order to make learning organized and meaningful. So mind maps became more prevalent in educational program. Instructors began to explore ways to utilize them more effectively to facilitate student learning (Love, 2004).
Statement of the Problem
In the age of globalization where the word has become a small village, especially in age of the satellites, technology, information and internet, the demand tending for learning English has increased and it has become a necessity for individuals who want to follow up the vast changes in this world. However, learning English grammar is not an easy job for the majority of our students, especially within our schools limited possibilities. A lot of obstacles such as crowded classes, difficult curricula and traditional evaluation instruments force teachers to modify or even change their techniques to overcome these obstacles towards the targeted objectives. The students? low achievement level in English language in general and its grammar in particular requires a serious research for alternative techniques that may improve our students’ level.
The inadequacy of traditional methods of instruction has led to innovations in education in many parts of the world. Innovations and renovations in education are necessary activities. In specific, the traditional methods which are used for grammar teaching give students less ability in the use of grammatical rules without comprehension. In addition, problems such as ineffective strategies and disability to connect with learners’ needs, which leads to deficiency in learning grammar, the inability of learners to differentiate between the spoken and written language and how to use grammatical rules in both cases and the unsuitability of language institutes curriculum at English departments put more obstacles in the way of teaching grammar. Hence, the goal of the current trend in instructional design and development is to devise the most effective and economical instruction at low cost, by the use of strategies that match individual learners which can lead to the highest degree of learning in classrooms at all levels (Sidney, 1996).
Learning rules of grammar is the main goal of learning English language. It raises students’ awareness of main ideas in a text, exploring the structure of a text, i.e., seems to be essential for good use of language (Richards & Renandya, 2002).
Much of what learners learn is stored, and it is not in use. Learners are not allowed to express themselves. They are afraid of situations requiring language use. The language program must be built on certain topics or activities carefully selected, and can be a part of every lesson so as to enable learners to use their store of language (Rivers and Mary, 1983).
As far as the researcher knows, Iranian students who have received several years of English teaching, frequently remain deficient in the ability of actual use of language, and its understanding in normal communication. Azzawi ( 2004) investigated the effect of integrative L2 grammar teaching on the students’ achievement in English grammar. This study proved that when learners want to express themselves, the problem is not that they have a detective knowledge of the system of English, but they are not familiar with English use. Moreover, according to Brumfit and Johnson (1979) the needs cannot be satisfied by a course which provides the students further practice in the forming of sentences, but by ones which develop knowledge of how sentences are used in the performance of different communication acts. Hence, college students are in urgent need for teaching techniques that involve them in the lesson and help them use English communicatively in meaningful learning situations.
Purpose of the Study
In his study, Brown (2002) considered mind map as an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It also allows you to visually structure your ideas to help with analysis and recall. A mind map can turn a long list of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of doing things (Richards, 2007).
Fromkin & Rodman (1993) claim human being who speaks a language knows its grammar, and tries to learn the grammar of the target language in order to be able to communicate easily with others, so knowledge of grammar enhances communication which is the ultimate goal of teaching any language.
Regarding the ideas mentioned above, this study aims to achieve the following objectives:
First, identifying the effect of using mind map on achieving grammar among Iranian lower-intermediate EFL students and then, familiarizing English language teachers with the basic principles of designing, and using mind maps in teaching English grammar.
Given the purpose of this study, following research question is addressed:
Q1: Does using mind map have any significant effect on improving intermediate EFL learners’ writing performance?
For the above research question, following null hypothesis is addressed:
H01: Using mind map does not have any significant effect on improving intermediate EFL learners’ writing performance.
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that this study will be of great value for:
Iranian EFL students to improve their learning of grammatical concepts and rules easily by practicing the mind map which is graphic organizer used as instructional strategy.
Enriching the field of research in teaching English as a foreign language in terms of teaching grammar at institute level.
Improving the achievement of EFL students in English language grammar.
Directing the attention of EFL language instructors towards adopting new trends and techniques for teaching a particular subject-matter.
Encouraging educationalists and researchers to experiment the effectiveness of recently advocated teaching methods and classroom techniques to teach a variety of English subjects.
The study may also benefit
The teachers: The study may help English language teachers organize effective teaching– learning environment in the light of implementing mind map.
The supervisors: The study stimulates specialists’ and supervisors’ interests in conducting training courses for their teachers to enhance the use of mind map in teaching grammar.
Syllabus designers: They may benefit from this study to modify, organize and enrich English language curricula with activities based on mind map.
Definition of Key terms
English grammar is a set of rules which governs the language, these rules organize and fit words together to help learners to use the language correctly and accurately. English grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, right up to the structure of whole texts. There are historical, social, cultural and regional variations of English. There are historical, social, cultural and regional variations of English. Divergences from the grammar described here occur in some dialects. This article describes a generalized present-day Standard English, the form of speech and writing found in types of public discourse including broadcasting, education, entertainment, government, and news including both formal and informal speech. There are differences in grammar between the standard forms of British, American, and Australian English, although these are minor compared with the differences in vocabulary and pronunciation (Wiki, 2016).
EFL Learners: EFL is an abbreviation for “English as a Foreign Language”. This is mainly used to talk about students (whose first language is not English) learning English while living in their own country. (For example, a Chinese person learning English in China.) ESL is an abbreviation for “English as a Second Language” Wiki, 2004). English as a second or foreign language is the use of English by speakers with different native languages. Instruction for English-language learners may be known as English as a second language (ESL), English as a foreign language (EFL), English as an additional language (EAL), or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). English as a foreign language (EFL) is used for non-native English speakers learning English in a country where English is not commonly spoken.
EFL Teachers: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to students with different first languages. TEFL can occur either within the state school system or more privately, at a language school or with a tutor. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) refers to teaching the English language to students with different first languages. TEFL can occur either within the state school system or more privately, at a language school or with a tutor. TEFL can also take place in an English-speaking country for people who have immigrated there (either temporarily for school or work, or permanently). TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English. Other acronyms for TEFL are TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and ESL (English as a second language, a term typically used in English-speaking countries, and more often referring to the learning than the teaching) (Wiki, 2007).
Traditional method. It is a conventional method used by teachers in Iran. It is a teacher centered method, where the teacher is the main source of teaching and demonstrates the scene while learners are passive recipients. The grammar–translation method is a method of teaching foreign languages derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin. The grammar–translation method is a method of teaching foreign languages derived from the classical (sometimes called traditional) method of teaching Greek and Latin. In grammar–translation classes, students learn grammatical rules and then apply those rules by translating sentences between the target language and the native language. Advanced students may be required to translate whole texts word-for-word. The method has two main goals: to enable students to read and translate literature written in the source language, and to further students’ general intellectual development. It originated from the practice of teaching Latin; in the early 1500s, students learned Latin for communication, but after the language died out it was studied purely as an academic discipline. When teachers started teaching other foreign languages in the 19th century, they used the same translation-based approach as had been used for teaching Latin. The method has been rejected by scholars, and has no theoretical basis (Wiki, 2016).
Limitations and Delimitations
This study is designed to examine the effect of mind map on improving EFL learners’ grammatical performance. This chapter covers the review of related literature divided into three parts: Part one is the definition of mind, the second part is theoretical background, and part three is the revision of the related studies on mind maps, students’ attitudes, and achievements.
2.1 Definition of Mind Map
According to Brown (2002), “a mind map is an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It allows you to visually structure your ideas by the use of analysis and recall”. A mind map is a diagram for representing tasks, words, concepts, or items linked to and arranged around a central concept or subject using a non-linear graphical layout that allows the user to build an intuitive framework around a central concept. A mind map can turn a long list of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of doing things (Richards, 2007).
A mind map can be used as a simplified content management system (CMS). It allows you to store all your data in a centralized location to stay organized. With the various mind mapping software programs out today, you can attach files to different branches for even more flexibility. You can also change to various different views in order to find one that suits you best.
2.2 Theoretical Framework for the Study of Mind Map
The subject of mind map has been studied by many scholars in the field of mind. Some of the most significant frameworks relevant to the study of mind map will be discussed below:
Teaching the concepts and acquisition by the students is considered the basic requirement of the educational process because of its importance in formulating the learner’s cognitive structure. It is the tool for acquiring knowledge and the experiences that enable the learners to encounter the continuous increase in knowledge. From this point, the educators tend to focus on the strategies that help the learner in acquiring and retaining these concepts, and transferring the effect of this learning to practical life. They also need it to be useful as a prediction, explanation and classification tool. Concept maps are also considered as strategies which are based on Ausubel’s ideas. (Stanley, 1998)
Ausubel’s theory is one of the most important cognitive theories in education that pursue to study the learner’s cognitive structure and the higher mental processes, in order to achieve meaningful learning. According to him, meaningful learning is based on the supposition which can be learned by the individuals through organizing new information in the accredited teaching system. The most important principle that Ausubel’s theory has focused on, is teaching by introducing the cognitive topic in its general lines. More general ideas should be presented at first. After that, the details and more specific are considered for teaching. Stanley (1998) introduces Ausubel’s learning theory as a skill which emphasizes on developing thinking skills in students for specific instruction and practice. This theory suggests that teachers should address analysis, evaluation and synthesis using organizers that encourage students to operate at the highest possible level. Moreover, this theory emphasizes on strengthening the cognitive structure that helps students retain information for longer periods of time. On the other hand, sub-assumptions provide students with basic structures on which to build new concepts.
Ausbul’s learning theory consists of a set of components including the following: Metaphor: Ausubel (1963) sees knowledge as representing an integrated system in which ideas are linked together in an orderly fashion, and the human mind follows logical rules for organizing information into respective categories.
Cognitive structure: Ausubel affirms that the learner’s cognitive structure is in the acquisition of new information, presenting experience that is always fitted into what the learner already knows. The existing cognitive structure that organizes, stabilizes and clarifies knowledge in a particular field at any time is the main factor impacting the learning and retention of meaningful new material. Subsumption: Ausubel’s (1960) learning theory is built around the concept of subsumtion, when a new idea enters consciousness. It is processed and classified under one or more of the inclusive concepts already existing in the learner’s cognitive structure, and the new meaningful materials becoming incorporated into cognitive structure under relevant existing concepts. Ausubel’s (1962) assented that it is reasonable to suppose that anchorage provides new learning and retention, and when cognitive stability is provided by anchoring ideas it helps to explain why meaningful learning is retained longer.
Novak considers concept map (or mind map) as a visual tool to help a learner organize and represent what he or she knows. Mind maps usually include concepts, enclosed in circles or boxes, and the relationship between these concepts is indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts. Words on or between the lines, refer to the linking words or phrases and explain the relationship between the two concepts.
Concept maps are closely related to constructivist learning theory, which points that learners actively construct new knowledge; discovery learning theory and David Ausubel’s theory of meaningful learning. Joseph D. Novak developed concept mapping in 1970s at Cornell University to capture students’ emerging science knowledge. His work is based on Ausubel, who underscored the importance of prior knowledge for learning.
A methodology developed by Trochim (1989), called “mind mapping,” also seems well-suited for an inductive approach to developing such a theory, and is employed in this study. Mind mapping combines a group process (brainstorming, unstructured sorting and rating of the brainstormed items) with several multivariate statistical analyses (multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis) and concludes with a group interpretation of the mind maps that result.
Park, S. (1995) study has defined learning strategies as the mental activities that people use when they study to help themselves acquire organize, or remember incoming knowledge more effectively, and there are a number of learning strategies that can help students and to achieve in the classroom over the long run, the strategies include meaningful learning , organizing, note taking, identifying important information, and summarizing.
The reviewed theoretical and empirical literature helped the researcher to determine the problem and the instrument of the study. The current study is conducted in a different situation from that of the reviewed empirical studies.
Brain (1998) study entitled “The effect of using the mind maps on comprehending the biology subject contents by the public university students aimed to measure the change in the concepts (experimental group) the traditional normal lectures effectiveness of using the mind maps as advanced organizers, the study reached results, the most important organizer had great effect on the mind comprehension of the biology textbook contents by the students and had the same effect when used with the students classified according to perceptual development level, gender, age, major, curriculum duration & their cognitive background, the study reached the presence of important relation between the perceptual development level and the mind comprehension.
Mcfall (1999) has conducted a study to know the effect of using the mind maps or the dialogues on students’ perception of the mind maps. The subject was taught in English. The study sample consisted of (60) male and female students of the fourth elementary class. Using the science and technology subject for children, specifically the plants growth and development unit, she divided the study sample into three treatment groups, one group who spoke English as a second language, the second group were native speakers of English and the third group were the control group who were speakers of English as native and second language, but were taught by using the traditional methods. The researcher found differences in the two tests scores (the pre and posttests) in the three groups, also she found that the use of the mind maps had the great effect on both the students who speak English language as a second language and those who speak it as the mother language.
Al-debai (2000) study aimed to investigate the effect of using the mind maps on the second secondary grade students achievement in the chemistry subject in Eden City. The study sample consisted of (314) male and female students randomly distributed into two groups: the experimental group (160) male and females students that studied by using the mind maps and the control group (154), male and female students, who studied by the traditional (normal) way. The researcher had prepared a set of mind maps for the selected topics, also prepared a post-test for achievement to measure the students’ achievement in its three levels (remembering, understanding and application). The hypothesis validity was tested by using the dual analysis (ANOVA-2) ant t-test. The study revealed the following results: the presence of difference with statistical significance between the achievement mean of the experimental group students that studied by using the mind maps, and the achievement mean of the control group students that studied by the normal way were in favor of the experimental group that studied by using the mind maps. The achievement mean of the control group female students that studied by using the mind mean of the female students of the control group that studied by the normal way were in favor of the female students in the first group.
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