false cognate

I want to let you in on a little secret. If you think you don’t know Spanish, you are wrong. There are thousands of words that are similar in both English and Spanish. Roughly about 30-40% of words in English are similar to Spanish words. These words are cognates and can be used to help ELD students who speak a Latin-based language. Words such as list (English) and lista (Spanish) to analyze (English) and analizar (Spanish) are recognizable in either language. These words should be easily understandable for all students once connection is made.

Strategies when working with Cognates

Read Aloud

When reading a text out loud have students raise their hands when they hear a word that they believe is a cognate. Stop, take a minute to discuss what the word means in Spanish and then in English

Student Reading

Ask students to find cognates as they read through a text. Have them write them on a sticky note. Before the end of the period have the students discuss the words, how they sound, what they mean and how they are spelled, what are the differences and commonalities. Collect them and then create a Class Cognate chart.

Word Sort

Have the students match Spanish words with their English counterparts.

Circling Differences

Have the students call out the letter differences between words. The teacher or students should circle the letters that are different.


Be careful of the False Cognates. These are words in English that sound like they have a Spanish equivalent. They do not. Some examples are as follows.


Greek and Latin roots that are also cognates






More information:

Colorin Colorado

Spanish Dictionary

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