The paper "Teaching English-language Learners with Spanish-English Cognates" is a brilliant example of a book review on education. Researchers like Lori Helman of the of Nevada have pointed to the importance of demonstrating the need for second-language educators to consider students’ original language when providing critical instruction. She offers a general approach for instruction that begins with teaching common elements between the two languages and then working with areas that are different. Teaching English-language Learners with Spanish-English Cognates expands on Professor Helman’ s ‘ Common Elements’ stage of instruction by detailing how educators can utilize Spanish or English cognates to structure a lesson that emphasizes the similarities between the two languages to aid in their instruction.
The article makes the point that there is significant linguistic research supporting the effectiveness of “ cross-linguistic transference” ; that is, that because Spanish and English are similar the Spanish speaker will have an easier time developing English language skills. It recommends starting lessons by having students recite or memorize a list of Spanish cognates and then to gradually assimilate their English counterparts. It calls this the sheltering technique, as in “ cognates provide a little ‘ shelter’ from the storm” .
This is a transitional mode of instruction that clearly would work best with primary-student language learners, as it lowers their “ affective filter, ” where they begin to filter out information when they feel overwhelmed or stressed-out. Perhaps the most insightful portion of the essay discusses how the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) urges teachers to adopt an approach that incorporates the positive aspect of the learner’ s home language because “ when teachers… believe in the important role of primary language in literacy learning, English-language learners show higher levels of academic achievement.
The article ends by offering educators an effective mini-book activity where both English and Spanish cognates are written on a page along with a visual equivalent. The students then practice writing the word in the booklet.