Spanish-English bilingual students' use of cognates in English reading

William E. Nagy, Georgia Earnest García, Aydin Y. Durgunoğlu, Barbara Hancin-Bhatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A study was conducted to determine how Hispanic bilingual students’ knowledge of Spanish vocabulary and ability to identify Spanish-English cognates relate to their comprehension of English expository text. Subjects, 74 upper elementary Hispanic students able to read in both Spanish and English, were tested for Spanish and English vocabulary knowledge, and after reading each of four expository texts containing English words with Spanish cognates (e.g., English transform and Spanish transformar) were given a multiple-choice test on their understanding of key concepts from these texts. After a brief explanation of the concept cognate, they were asked to identify the words in these texts that had Spanish cognates. Performance on the multiple-choice test was found to be related to students’ ability to recognize cognate relationships. The relationship between Spanish vocabulary knowledge and English reading comprehension also appeared to depend on students’ ability to recognize cognates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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