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5 Cognates Lesson Ideas for Spanish Class

cognates lesson ideas spanish class back to school

Why Include a Cognates Lesson Week 1?

Starting the year with a cognates lesson is a fabulous way to allow new Spanish class students to explore the language and feel a bit less intimidated! Students will create connections between their primary language and Spanish, which will help them to build confidence in words they can already understand in a brand new language! I love introducing the concept of cognates week 1 (even day 1) in Spanish 1 (and as review in Spanish 2) to start students off with success!

Cognates Lesson Idea #1: Presentación sobre el/la profe

One of my favorite day 1 lesson ideas is a presentation all about me, entirely in the Spanish language! I prepare slides on a variety of topics with both pictures/visuals and bulleted notes in Spanish (focusing on cognates where possible). Before presenting, I prepare students: “The following presentation will be entirely in Spanish. Your goal is to just listen, and write notes if you wish, but focus on what you DO understand. My expectation is not that you understand 100%! My goal for you is that you capture a couple facts about me throughout the presentation. At the end, we will see how much we understood!”

In my presentation, I describe my birthdate, where I’m from and where I currently live, where I attended school, my favorite and least favorite activities, my favorite foods, where I’ve traveled, my family members names and interests, my pets, etc. My slides include visuals and I use cognates and hand motions throughout the presentation.

Once completed, students share (in small groups or full class) what they learned about me. Alternatively, I’ve also ended the presentation with a just-for-fun pop quiz! I prepare 10 multiple choice questions in English about what I taught in the presentation. After this, we debrief about how much students understood and what helped them – hand motions, visuals and *cognates!* This is a great moment to introduce the term cognates and explain how all of these comprehension tools will be ones they will want to come back to regularly in their language learning journey!

Cognates Lesson Idea #2: Lesson & Activities

Another option is to do a formal lesson on cognates! With this Cognates Lesson & Activities Resource students will be introduced to the concept of cognates and false cognates with a variety of activities! Included are:

  • guided notes with teacher slides
  • cognates translation activity
  • cognates reading activity
  • cognates explorative activity (with links to two authentic resources)
  • “Yo soy…” poster printable, using adjective cognates to introduce themselves!

Cognates Lesson Idea #3: Music

What better way to start of the year than with engaging music in Spanish!? Find a song or two to play regularly throughout the first weeks of class. Print off the lyrics and place them into sheet protectors. With a whiteboard marker, students can circle cognates as they listen to the song! This is also a great way for new students to start hearing Spanish pronunciation from various people/artists.

Cognates Lesson Idea #4: Headlines, Movie Titles, Signs, etc.

Don’t have a lot of time? Create some slides with current news headlines, movie titles, signs, etc. in Spanish. At the start or end of class, present a few and see if students can determine what they say! Infographics are also a favorite of mine – find an infographic on any random, fun topic and have students search for cognates!

Cognates Lesson Idea #5: Alphabet Tissue Box Project

One of my favorite back-to-school projects for Spanish 1 is an alphabet tissue box project! Students will cover a tissue box with letters of the Spanish alphabet and search for a new word in Spanish that starts with each letter. On the due date, students form groups to discuss the words they’ve found, form lists based on parts of speech and look for patterns. They also form a list of cognate words from their group’s boxes!

Try this project with your students!

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¡Hola! I’m Kristen, the teacher-author behind La Profe Digital. I design Spanish teaching resources rooted in culture, communication and authentic resources to help save YOU time!

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