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6 Apr 2011

An analysis of English-Spanish cognates as a source of general academic language

Shira Lubliner & Elfrieda H. Hiebert

Journal Article
Published

Lubliner, S., & Hiebert, E.H. (2011).  An analysis of English-Spanish cognates as a source of general academic language.  Bilingual Research Journal. 34(1), 76-93.

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Abstract

Three analyses of Spanish–English cognates were conducted, with the purpose of identifying features that might facilitate or inhibit bilingual students’ cognate recognition and cross-language transfer of vocabulary knowledge. Results revealed that both the General Service List and the Academic Word List (AWL) contain a substantial number of English–Spanish cognates, a high percentage of which can be categorized by 1 of 20 cognate patterns. Orthographic and phonological transparencies were analyzed, suggesting that cognates are more transparent in terms of orthography than phonology. A frequency analysis indicated that most AWL cognates are more common in Spanish than in English. Results suggest that carefully designed cognate instruction may provide Spanish-speaking students with a “cognate advantage” in comprehending English academic texts.