Human race has always had an instinct to express their needs, feelings, and emotions in written forms as well as oral ones. Calkins (1989, p. 3) illustrates that human beings have a deep need to represent their experiences through writing. He mentions that ancient people were fond of writing stories, events, habits, or situations related to them on the walls of caves and temples. It could be said that it is a natural human desire and tendency toward drawing shapes and lines on some material's surfaces. One can observe that young children are driven to leave written marks with pens, pencils, markers, pieces of coal, or even lipsticks on walls, furniture, or bathrooms.
Academically speaking, writing is one of the four major language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) that needs to be mastered by language learners. It is considered the most complicated skill of all of them. Despite of its difficulties, writing is still considered an essential, useful, integral, and enjoyable part of any language syllabus (Scott and Ytreberg, 1994, p. 69). Because of its complexity, most approaches to language teaching delay the teaching of writing to later stages till the learners acquire adequate amount of vocabulary, grammatical rules, and the required linguistic background; which the students learn throughout spoken language activities besides reading exercises. Cohen (1990, p. 103) says that some language teaching methods do not allow language learners to write at early stages, while others do not give students a chance to write extended prose, but the learners are required to write isolated sentences instead.
Kroll (1990) explains that writing in a foreign/second language (L2) is more complex since native speakers' writing problems are combined with the difficulties of using new codes of the other language. However, EFL students cannot survive without a reasonable amount of mastering writing in the English language. University students studying in the departments of English, in particular, have to take final examinations in written forms. In addition, they are required to submit several written assignments to their professors. Less proficient students, logically, face problems when they write in English. Consequently, this shortage will affect their grade in the academic subjects that they study in English; such as drama, poetry, phonetics, methodology, and curriculum.
Thus, the present article is concerned mainly with developing university students' essay writing proficiency level. It investigates how far the use of mind-mapping software can develop outlining ability and writing proficiency level.
2. Review of Literature
Developing writing is an important but complex part of language learning since it is greatly essential for consolidating learning in the other skills and areas. Chastain (1988, p. 244) contends that writing is a basic communication skill and unique asset in the process of learning a second...