Cognates


Do you know what cognates are? Do you use them in your classroom? If you have ELLs in your classroom (even if you're not a bilingual teacher) you should be using them!! Or maybe you are a Dual Language teacher and have students learning Spanish? Use cognates!! 
For some strange reason my students adore that little word and we talk about it EVERY SINGLE DAY in our classroom.
If you were to come into my classroom and ask one of my students what cognates are, they would simply say: words that sound about the same in English or Spanish and share a similar meaning. That's it! Pretty easy to understand...no?

Let's see some examples from the Cognates Wall in my classroom:
Some cognates are spelled the same in English and Spanish, some others aren't and that's ok. Like I tell my kids: as long as they sound close to another word and they remind you of a word in Spanish.

Why should I use cognates in my classroom?

Cognates are a super powerful strategy to use with ELLs. They are able to make a connection between the two languages and build their comprehension. 
Every time we are getting ready to read a new text, I immediately ask my students to look for cognates and underline them. 

Other times, while my students and I are talking, a cognate will come up. I usually say very quickly and excited: THAT'S A COGNATE!! Eventually, the kids start telling me when they find one and it becomes an exciting little game!

WATCH OUT FOR FALSE COGNATES!!
Unfortunately there are some words that appear to be cognates but they aren't. Remember that cognates have a similar sound and definition. Some words sound the same in English and Spanish but they DO NOT share the same definition. 
For example: the word embarrassed is usually misused by bilingual students because it sounds similar to "embarazada" in Spanish which means pregnant! We certainly don't want our kids misusing that word lol! 
The word carpet in English is similar to "carpeta" in Spanish. However, "carpeta" means folder. 
If you are going to teach cognates to your kids, you gotta watch out for these tricky words. Remember, when in doubt, just Google it! If you tell your students about false cognates they will be aware and understand not all words are cognates! And let me tell you... they will LOVE to find those false cognates.

Here is a link to my favorite list of cognates. (By the way Colorin Colorado is an amazing website with very helpful articles on teaching ELLs). I use this list every day! Remember to talk to your students about false cognates, they will learn to recognize them faster than you think! 







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