How to Help ESL students Learn 1,000 English Words in 5 Minutes, Part 1

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not – at least, not with the help of cognates, those same-root words that are an  English learner’s best friend. By learning a few simple rules, it is possible to learn a large quantity of new words very quickly. In fact, you will be amazed at how many words you already know!

Many native Spanish speakers learning English (or vice versa, English-speakers learning Spanish) don’t realize that they already “know” many words in the target language they are trying to learn. Because Spanish and English words often share the same Latin root, many words have similar spelling and the same meaning. This knowledge can be easily transferred in the acquisition of the second language.

Here are five common linguistic patterns in Spanish and English cognates.

  1. Add –ar or –ir

English verbs ending in vowel+consonant+t can often be converted into Spanish by adding the endings “-ar” or “-ir.”

For example: adapt and adaptar; convert and convertir

  1. al = al

English nouns ending in “-al” are often identical to their Spanish equivalent.

Words that end in –al and are the same in both English and Spanish

For example: capital, general, normal, and universal.

  1. –ary → ario

English adjectives that end in –ary can often be converted into Spanish by replacing the –ary ending with –ario.

For example: judiciary and judiciario; necessary and necesario; salary and salario.

  1. ate → ar

Most English verbs ending in –ate can be converted to Spanish by replacing the –ate ending with –ar.

For example: facilitate and facilitar; administrate and administrar; illuminate and iluminar.

  1. –e → ar and –e → –ir

Many English infinitive verbs can be converted to Spanish by dropping the final –e and replacing it with an –ar or –ir ending.

For example: abuse and abusar; contribute and contribuir; cause and causar

For more easy-to-learn cognate rules, please stay tuned for Part 2!

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