Use Spanish Cognates to Learn (or Teach) English 

Spanish cognates can help Spanish-speakers learn a great deal of English vocabulary. You just need to know a few simple rules for converting from Spanish to English or back.

For example, many English verbs ending in -ate are very similar in form to -AR verbs in Spanish, usually with similar meanings as well, and their noun forms are also close:

  • concentrate/concentration- concentrar/concentración
  • eliminate/elimination- eliminar/eliminación

Other verbs ending -ificar in Spanish (clarficar, identificar, justificar, notificar, or verificar) change to -ify in English (clarify, justify, verify), and their nouns follow the same pattern as the first verbs mentioned above (clarification, etc.)

If you already speak Spanish and know some basic English, a little time spent studying the patterns will help you greatly increase your English vocabulary and confidence.

The packets or course below can help you make the connections quickly, and also avoid the worse pitfalls of false cognates-- words that appear similar but actually may mean very different things, or at least have a very different connotation (feeling.)

They all share most of the same course material. However, the first two are for Spanish speakers learning English to study on their own, and the third is for teachers to use with their students.

You will need Adobe or another pdf reader to download these pdfs. If you do not have Adobe Reader you can download it, free, here.

Learn English with Spanish-English Cognates

Picture of the cover of Learn English with Spanish-English Cognates & text starting

Most of this pdf is various kinds of practice: worksheets (mostly fill-ins: word forms, selecting words to fit into sentences, etc.), a crossword puzzle, and task cards.

Task cards give in-depth practice with important academic vocabulary. Each word family gets two cards. 

The first gives the various parts of speech for the 'family,' for example analyze (vb.), analyst (n.- person), analysis (n.), analytical (or analytic: adjs., basically the same), analytically (adv.) 

That card also has several sentences with a space to fill in the correct form (analyze, analysis, etc.)

The second card gives an example sentence using one of these forms. You need to decide which of the following sentences have the same meaning as the example. It's a game: how many can you get right?

Contents:

  •    Introduction to English-Spanish Cognates for Spanish: page 3
  •    AR to –ate  Verb Cognates: 4 
  •    Other Latin Roots Creating English-Spanish Cognates: 5-7
  •    Answers for pages 3-7: 8-9 
  •    More Practice with English Cognates: 10-11; Answers 12-13
  •    False Cognates: 14-15; Practice:16; Answers: 17 

Main English Practice:

  •    How to Use the Task Cards: 18 
  •    How to Pronounce Task Card Vocabulary: 19-20   
  •    Task Cards (1-20; 2 per academic word/ word family)- pages 21-25
  •    Task Card Answers 26-30
  •    Academic Vocabulary: Cognates Crossword Puzzle: pg. 31 (or 33 to print if you want) 
  •    Crossword Answers: 32 (or 34- long version to print.) 
  •    Cognate Review (or Quiz): 35-36
  •    Cognate Review/Quiz Answers: 37-38
  •    Acknowledgments

Click the button below to download the Learn English with Spanish-English Cognates packet for $7.00.



Learn Academic English with Spanish Cognates (a short course)

If there’s interest, I will expand the pdf above into a short course on cognates. There are two main advantage to taking a course rather than just studying the pdf and practicing using its worksheets:

  • You can watch videos explaining the main concepts and then hear the correct (American) stress and pronunciation of each English cognate discussed. The stress often changes as the part of speech changes (as in an’alyze, anal’ysis, an’alyst, analy’tically), so it’s important to hear each.  You can, of course, listen to each word you’re not sure of in an online dictionary, but the course would provide them all in one convenient place.
  • You can ask me questions (or suggest changes or additional materials—which I will provide if at all possible) in the discussion area of the course, or during live Q&A session if several sign up.

In addition, I’ll include six more useful academic words in the task cards. (I took them out of the pdf above to keep it shorter and a little less expensive.)

I’m waiting to make the videos until I know if more than a couple of people would like the extra help of a course. I will make videos immediately if there’s interest—and you will not have to pay until they are ready.

Teach English with Spanish-English Cognates

According to research, English Language Learners need help learning to recognize and work with cognates. 

Since both Spanish and a majority of English academic vocabulary are Latin-based, Spanish-speaking students of English have a huge head start on CALP (academic) vocabulary if they can learn some simple rules for these cognates. 

These task cards, worksheets, and games (including a crossword puzzle and an adaptation of bingo for review) introduce some important English academic words that have clear Spanish cognates.

By studying and practicing with them, students will become familiar with common patterns of the differences between the English and Spanish for these words.

The patterns they learn will transfer, giving students the skills they need to recognize and understand many more words.

It’s important that students not only recognize similarities in word meaning, but also the times when apparent similarities mask differences in connotation or meaning.

This packet has a worksheet on false cognates, asking students to verify meanings with a dictionary and helping them understand that they should not rely on apparent similarities for words they want to use or need to understand accurately.

There are also two task cards for each of 16 important academic word ‘families.’ The first card gives the most common verb, noun, adjective, and adverb (if common) forms of each word and practice choosing the correct form to complete sample sentences.

The second card gives one more example of use, but then asks students to determine which of four alternate sentences (not using the target word) accurately reflect its meaning.

By practicing with both kinds of cards, students get to work with multiple examples of each word’s use. They should become familiar with the common suffixes like –tion, -able, -ed, -ive, and –ly, the ways they correspond with Spanish suffixes (-ción, -sión, -able—pronounced differently--  -ado, -ido, -ivo, -mente, etc.) and where words with those endings fit into sentences. 

There is also a page teaching the English stress and pronunciation of each word form- designed for teachers to go over with the class, so all can hear and repeat the correct forms and notice the changes in stress as verbs convert to nouns or adjectives.

The revised (2018) packet includes extra practice with more cognates. It's on sale for a limited time at $9.50.

Contents:

  • Notes for Teachers: cognates, the worksheets, task cards, & pronunciation- pages 3-5
  • Bingo for extra practice & links to cognate research & task card uses & games- 6
  • Sample vocabulary notebook page template- 7
  • Introduction to Spanish-English Cognates- 8
  • Other Latin Roots Creating Spanish-English Cognates- 9-10
  • More Practice with English Cognates- 11
  • False Cognates & Practice with False (or Partially False) Cognates- 12-13
  • Pronouncing Task Card Vocabulary handout- 14
  • Academic Vocabulary: Cognates Crossword- 15
  • Task Cards (1-32; 2 per academic word/ word family)- 16-23 
  • 5 page Task Card Answer key- 24-28 
  • Cognate Review (or Quiz)- 29

Teacher Answer Sheets (moved to the bottom so the pages to print will be together in the middle)

  • Cognate Review/Quiz Answer key- page 30
  • Introduction and Root Answer key- 31
  • More Practice with Cognates Answer key- 32
  • Answer key for False Cognates (pg. 13)- 33
  • Crossword (page 15) Answer key- 34
  • Credits & similar packets- 35-36

 Click the button below to download the Spanish-English Cognates packet for 9.50.



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