Cognate Linguistics

ELT through Cognates

What are Cognates? They are words descended from a common ancestor; that is, words having:

cognates-english  english-cognates   the same linguistic family or derivation (English),
cognates-spanish  spanish-cognates   la misma familia lingüística o derivación (Spanish),
cognates-french  french-cognates   la même famille linguistique ou dérivation (French),
cognates-portuguese  portuguese-cognates   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.

cognates-3  cognates-3b

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.
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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.



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 & 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

Let's get Cognated at

Mid-America Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska)


The Debunking of False Cognates

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.

Free Resources

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About the Author


Cognate Friends

Learning English through Portuguese Cognates, by Josh Smith