4 Ways that Cognates Can Help English Speakers Learn Spanish


Do you know the power of cognates?  Did you know that cognates can help you learn Spanish?  Wait!  What is a cognate anyway?  In this post, I will define what cognates are, and I will show you 4 ways that cognates can help you learn Spanish.

4 Ways that Cognates Can help English Speakers Learn Spanish

Cognates are words in 2 languages that look (spell) the same, sound the same and, for the most part, they mean the same thing.  They are so similar because of their origins, in this case mostly Latin roots, and because of their development or how the words have been used over the years.  

Cognates are useful for language learners because you can recognize a word in Spanish because it sounds the same in English, plus it has the same or very similar meaning.

In the same way, there are 'false cognates' or 'false friends'.  These sound the same and look very similar, but they do not mean the same thing.

How can you learn these false cognates and avoid embarrassment?  Only by really knowing your words in both languages, or trial and error!

1.  The first way that cognates can help English Speakers learn Spanish is because cognates naturally help you build vocabulary. 

Cognates help you learn Spanish
music, electric, idea, doctor/hospital, capital, family, chocolate

Vocabulary is the foundation of language, right?  If you don't know very many words in a language, then you can't really communicate very effectively.  

The beauty of cognates is that they transfer meaning into the second language in an almost effortless way!  Almost effortless because you need to look out for the so called 'false' cognates.  They don't mean the same thing!  

Cognates provide an easy way to learn new Spanish vocabulary because they already have a familiar sound and meaning to English speakers.

For example, 'hospital' in Spanish is 'hospital' in English.  If you were reading this you would know right away what the word is.  'Chocolate' is exactly the same as well.  

Being able to recognize cognates will help you to expand your vocabulary without needing to memorize completely new words.

2.  Comprehension is the second way that cognates will help you learn Spanish.

Cognates help you learn Spanish

Cognates help you to better understand Spanish reading and conversations.  Even watching TV in Spanish is easier when you recognize cognates because you can quickly recognize the words that you already have in your vocabulary bank.  You may not have known how to use the words, but once you hear them, you can recognize the words and their meanings right away!

An added bonus with the comprehension by default is confidence! Imagine if you start listening and recognizing words and phrases in Spanish right away!  You will feel great!  And that piece of the pie is due to the wonderful world of cognates!

3.  Spelling is the next way that cognates will help you learn Spanish.

Cognates can help you learn Spanish

Spelling is a cinch when you recognize a cognate!  You can spell better when you know your cognates because the spelling is already either the same, or very similar to the English spelling of the word.  

This can be even more helpful when the words have spelling in Spanish that you might not expect.  For example, 'accident' and 'accidente'.  There is a double 'c' in both of the words that sounds like an /x/.  Once you know this, it is easier to spell, and even say the word in both languages.  Also, 'guitar' and 'guitarra' are different by only the 1 extra 'r'.  You can pull in your knowledge of the word in English, and it will work in Spanish, as long as you have a true cognate.

4.  The fourth, and last way, that I will point out is confidence

Gain confidence as you learn Spanish

When you are able to recognize cognates in Spanish as an English speaker, you will feel more confident and less intimidated by the language.  This can make learning Spanish feel less daunting and way more approachable.  Imagine the day when you recognize that you are becoming more fluent in Spanish!  Knowing and recognizing your cognates will help you get there faster!

In conclusion, cognates are a super useful to English Speakers as you enter your journey of learning Spanish.  Cognates will help you with vocabulary building, comprehension, spelling and even confidence!  

The only thing you really need to keep an eye out for is the 'false cognates'.  The best way to safe guard against the false cognates is to check for meaning before using the words.

Are you interested in learning Spanish?  If so, I can help.  Click this link to learn how!

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