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English-Spanish cognates are words that are orthographically and semantically identical or nearly identical in English and Spanish as a result of a common etymology. Because of the similarities in the two languages, Spanish-dominant Latino English Language Learners (ELLs) can be taught to recognize English cognates thereby increasing their bilingualism and bi-literacy for these two languages.

There are over 20,000 English-Spanish cognates, many of the academic vocabulary words. Despite their vast educational potential, however, cognates are typically excluded as a word category in the language arts curriculum, thus denying Latino ELLs of a resource for acquiring English-Spanish bilingualism and bi-literacy.

English-Spanish cognates may be distinguished from non-cognate words by their rule-governed morphological and orthographic structures. To capitalize on the inherent differences between cognates and non-cognates, the present manuscript presents morphological and orthographic strategies that can be used to teach Latino ELLs to recognize the rich cognate vocabulary found in picture books, specifically, those books which have been cited as Charlotte Zolotow Award winners and honor books. Through these strategically-designed language activities revolving around the read-alouds of the Zolotow Award books, teachers can introduce Latino ELLs to cognates in the early primary school years to encourage their development of bilingualism and bi-literacy.