In my previous post, we discussed that one of the challenges when it comes to learning Japanese is the vast amount of information we have to memorize. To reach a decent level of Japanese, it is about 14.000 pieces of information (for the calculation, see the post 1 on this blog). We have also elaborated a strategy which would help as to manage this goal. This strategy has three overlapping pillars (for details on this strategy, see my post 2 on this blog):

·       Prioritizing information for learning by frequency of use

·       Information networking

·       Reading texts which we find interesting

The tool I have developed is supporting learning Japanese using this strategy.

In this post, I would like to take about mind maps, a learning technique which we can use as a part of information networking strategy.

One of the difficulties with the tradition learning is that the learning methods used are linear. By linear, we mean that we learn information A, once information A has been understood, then we start learning information B which is based on information A. Once we learned information B, only then we start learning information C, which in turn depends on having understood information B. In this way, we are extending the linear chain of information where any information item in the chain depends on the previous singe information and leads to the next single information.

This learning approach is working fine, however, our brains are capable of doing more and we are not using these capabilities. Let´s have a look at the organization of neurons in our brains. They are not organized linearly, this means in chains. They build complex networks. Looking at a single neuron, it is not connected only to one previous and one subsequent neuron. It receives connections from several neurons and passes its connections to several subsequent neurons. The denser the network, the better.

Similarly, our mind is also able to connect information of pieces to networks. Such networks are called mind maps. The more connections in a mind map, the better we can memorize the information in the mind map.

We can utilize the techniques of mind maps for learning Japanese. It is fun to create them and the more fun we have crating them, the more positive emotions are there. Because we attach emotions to the information, our brain thinks it is important information and it can easier memorize it.

We will build one such a mind map in this post. We will start with one piece of information (I will take an interesting word from one blog article which was written in Japanese) and the link several pieces of information to it. One piece of information will be either a kanji or Japanese word. In the next step, we would link pieces of information to the added pieces. In this way we would continue until we will build a mind map. We will limit a mind map to about 20 information pieces.

Now let´s have a look how to arrive from one piece of information to the next one. For this, we will use several types of connections:

If the starting piece of information is a word, we can use the following connections:

·       Connection to individual kanji the work is composed of

·       Connection to a synonymous word or word with a very similar meaning

·       Connection to a word with an opposite meaning

·       Connection to a word which is frequently associated with the word

·       Connection to a word with the same reading


If the starting piece of information is a kanji, we can use the following connections:

·       Connection to a word which contains the kanji

·       Connection to a kanji with the same reading

·       Connection to a kanji containing the same radical

·       Connection to a kanji which is frequently confused with the starting kanji

·       Connection to a kanji with a similar meaning (the best examples would be kanji sisters, I will explain this later)

·       Connection to a kanji with an opposite meaning

·       Connection to a kanji related to a specific topic (e.g. colors etc., we will call these groups of kanji as kanji families)

You can come up with your own connection types.

Now let´s get started. Just recently I have read an article (using my app Kajimax) about life goals and there was a word for goal – 目標.  Let´s use this word as a seed for our first mind map.

From this word, we can get to words which are used in conjunction with this word, like 目標設定, 目標達成 or 到達する. We can also get to a similar word, which, however, has a slightly different meaning - 目的. From each word, we can get to the kanji which they are composed from and from each kanji to other kanji based on similar reading or other criteria as described above.

It is fun to create a mid-map. Using this simple example, we have connected around 20 pieces of information which are then easier to memorize. You can find the mind-map in the gallery under my posts.