Learn more about using "imaging," or associative imagery, to make the connection between familiar countries and their sometimes unfamiliar names in Spanish.
As previously discussed in the first article in this series, using associative imagery is a good way of training yourself to remember Spanish country names--or any other vocabulary you're trying to learn.
Even when the Spanish country name is very similar to the English name--or perhaps a direct translation of, such as the República Centroafricana--using image cards can still help you ground the proper names in your memory. Sometimes this is actually more necessary when the names in Spanish and English are both very similar, such as Antarctica and Antártida. If you don’t keep careful track of the slight differences, it becomes all too easy to assume both country names are the same.
The Central African Republic
The Spanish name for this country, which is "República Centroafricana" is a direct translation of its English name. You may not need to associate an image with this country name to remember it. If you do, try focusing on centro. It is often used to describe a downtown area in addition to its literal translation as “center"and also, coincidentally, the center portion of the country’s name in Spanish.
You’ll probably still be understood if you slip up and call this country Antártica instead of Antártida. But if you’re interested in speaking precisely and properly, just remember Ant Art with Ida (the ant). Ant-Art-Ida: Antártida. Remember, the sillier the image, the easier it is to remember Spanish country names.
While the English words “let on" don’t sound much like the Spanish word for Latvia (Letonia) at all, they look very much like it. That’s why this particular association is a dog (substitute your favorite animal here, if you like) waiting for Latvia to “let" it “on" a trampoline. Once again, the more absurd the image the easier it will be to remember. Since I don’t have any particularly strong imagery associated with Latvia right off the top of my head, I used a cube labeled as “Latvia" to fill its place. But if you have strong imagery connected with that country, such as a place, a person, an animal or an object, you can create your own card, substituting that associated image for my generic cube.
Once again, the Spanish name for Belgium, which is Bélgica, is fairly similar to the English name. Use the silly image of a bell hiccupping to help you remember the differences between the two. It’s not far from “bell hiccup" to “bell hicca" to Bélgica, and the emphasis on “bell" as a separate word helps you remember where to put the accent in this Spanish country name.
Don’t forget to download your copy of the image flash cards described here.