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Spanish-speaking students' use of cognate knowledge to infer the meaning of English words*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2011

Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC
University of Miami
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Center for Applied Linguistics
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Address for correspondence: Cheryl Dressler, 75 Westminster Ave., Arlington, MA 02474,


This research examines the processes which native Spanish-speaking learners of English and English-only students engage in when inferring meaning for unknown English words that have Spanish cognates. Conducted within the context of a large-scale vocabulary intervention that taught word inferencing strategies, including a cognate strategy, this qualitative study describes cognate strategy use among a small sample of participants. The data suggest that explicit instruction, students' metalinguistic and metacognitive skills, and the structural characteristics of cognate pairs are associated with cognate recognition.

Research Notes
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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This research was funded by a grant from the Institute for Education Sciences (Award #R306F60077-97). The authors are very grateful to the teachers and students who participated in this study for their effort and time. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments and suggestions.


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