ELT through Cognates
What are Cognates? They are words descended from a common ancestor; that is, words having:
the same linguistic family or derivation (English),
la misma familia lingüística o derivación (Spanish),
la même famille linguistique ou dérivation (French),
a mesma família lingüística ou derivação (Portuguese).
Cognates are more than 25,000 frequently used English words that are unmistakably understood by Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan speakers, among others. These words are found not only in isolation but also forming thousands of Cognate Collocations and even fully comprehensible statements thanks to a common Subject-Verb-Object Cognate Syntax.
This site promotes the use of Cognate Lexis and Syntax as the most reasonable foundation for easier and more motivating English and Foreign Language Acquisition.
All the Project's databases are available for purchase only to Research and Educational Institutions.
What to read in 2021
The Cognate Highlighter Browser
Add this free extension/plugin to your Google Chrome browser and it will automatically highlight all the English cognate words understandable to Spanish speakers and, to a large extent, to Portuguese, French and Italian speakers as well. Remember it has an on/off switch to disable it when you are not using it, so there is no need to uninstall it later.
Available for desktop browsers. Add
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Cognates by Nature
This large number of 'similar words and sounds' (+25,000), contrary to what some language learners and teachers think, is not limited to advantageous coincidences; and contrary to what some linguists think, it is not limited to Latin and Greek derivations present in scientific terms. The statistical data provided by this extensive research support the assertion that cognates represent at least 25% of the unique English written words met by Romance language speakers, and vice versa. Read more facts about Cognates
The Cognate Writer
This is another free tool by Cognate Linguistics. Just type or paste English text from any source in the text area below and those English cognate words understandable to Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian speakers -among others- will be highlighted. Click on the image to open the app.
The SVO Cognate Syntax
The immediate and effortless recognition of cognates is not only lexical but also syntactic. The common SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) cognate framework existing in both English and Romance language families is what actually takes cognates as a whole far beyond the expected. In fact, believe it or not, I find the SVO cognate syntax much more fascinating than the cognate lexis. Read more about the SVO Cognate Syntax.
Cognates & The Common Core
Interested in exploring and exploiting Cognates through the Common Core Standards? From Kindergarten to eighth grade, from Mathematics to Social Studies, Academic Vocabulary is packed with Cognates! Click here to download the free pdf vocabulary lists "Oklahoma Academic Vocabulary - Suggested Words and Terms" produced by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The cognate words and collocations in these lists have been highlighted using The Cognate Highlighter.
Cognates.org supports ReadWorks ®
The nonprofit ReadWorks® now features cognates provided by Cognates.org and The Dictionary of Cognates. This organization is committed to solving America's reading comprehension crisis and student achievement gap. ReadWorks® provides K-12 teachers with what to teach and how to teach it online, for free, to be shared broadly. They provide the largest, highest-quality library of curated nonfiction and literary articles in the USA, along with reading comprehension and vocabulary lessons, formative assessments, and teacher guidance. Most importantly, everything ReadWorks® does is based on proven cognitive science research, not unproven academic theory.
Cognates & The CEFR
Is your work aligned to The Common European Framework of Reference? Here you can download the vocabulary list for the Cambridge Preliminary English Test, which aligns to the CEFR B1 Level and which has been highlighted using The Cognate Highlighter.
The Multilingual Dictionary of Cognates Project
Click on img to enlarge on mobiles.
Natural Recognition vs. Natural Acquisition
Children's natural acquisition of their first language (L1) is not based on previous explicit language knowledge but on unconscious absorption due to its frequency and relevance. Many language experts are convinced we should naturally acquire a second language (L2) in the same manner. However, the cognitive and psycholinguistic mechanisms employed by our minds to acquire L1 are not exactly the same as those employed to acquire L2. Read more about the psycholinguistic aspects of Cognates
Cognates on Non-profit TV Program
Between 2009 and 2010, thousands of people in Ecuador started learning English as no one had ever done it before. Based on the principle that the scope of cognate recognition or cognate learning, if applicable, totally depends on the vocabulary learners already possess in their mother tongues, a non-profit introductory English course featured cognates without limitations; the claim than sometimes there are more underlying similarities than differences between English and Spanish was proven. More
I know, I know… Many old-school educators will get deeply hurt by my evil claims against their beloved false cognates. After all, they are very useful to either embarrass or scare learners.
"Don't you dare start making up words!!", they used to tell me.
Well, all of you, false cognate fans, are about to get beaten real bad! Academically speaking, of course! Just dare-click here and keep reading.
Nevertheless, if you want to avoid this fight, are not interested in scholarly answers, or just want to easily get away with my Coherent List of False Cognates, that’s fine. Here it is.
The Cognate Photo Gallery
"A picture is worth a thousand words", they say. Well, what about feeling the way your learners feel when cognates are unveiled to them? Since you are an English speaker, experience the Spanish cognate effect on you. Enter The Gallery.
Side-Project: Benedict Students' YouTube Channel
Yes, I am an English Teacher and I do teach English. Watch Benedict School Students in Action! Go to our YouTube Channel.
- The Most Frequent English and Spanish Cognates - MFCogn
- Portuguese, Italian and French raw translation of MFCogn
- The Most Frequent Business Cognate Words
- Extensive Statistical Sampling
- Sample of The Multilingual Dictionary of Cognates Project
- Cognate Verbs - Alphabetical List - Reverse List
- Cognate Adjectives - Alphabetical List - Reverse List
- Highlighted Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, 1911 Ed.
- Highlighted MFW wordlists (Most Frequent Words): GSL, AWL, VOA, Oxford
- Ruben Moran's Spanish Corpus
- False Cognates: The Coherent List
- The Cognate Chinese Zodiac
- New! Frankenstein (full novel highlighted, 1.27Mb)
More Free Resources
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What to read in 2021