I recently had a short story accepted by a new start-up in the “Learn a Language Online” business. Given the amount of refugeeism in the world today – not to be confused with refugee-whiz-ism (in short supply, I’m afraid) – there must be a lot of newly relocated people in Canada and other places who would like to speak English.
A company called Alsina Publishing is creating a platform for language learning – English and many others – and one of the central tools they use is the short story. It’s intuitive to imagine a language student, who, when provided with a story produced in both their native tongue and their target language, uses this resource to flip back and forth. They will read the story and learn new words, syntax, and more from the narrative. Furthermore, they can discover the subtleties of conversation through the story’s dialogue. I’m no linguist, but this must be a proven method, I’m sure.
My personal experience confirms this too. I don’t speak much French, but thanks to similar duplicate, bilingual formatting on Canadian cereal boxes and shampoo bottles, etc., phrases like “bien agiter” and “servez froid” are not just letter jumbles to me. I learned them via repetition, without trying, because the material was at hand in front of me at the breakfast table, in the restaurant, or in the tub. (High-concept stuff, wot? Eh? Si?)
The new platform Alsina Publishing has created is called LingoBites and it is in the final stages of development and will launch soon. My story, “The Light Pool” will be one of the first literary works that learners will use to climb the Tower of Babble.
LingoBites refines that basic cereal box concept – with more method and less mirth – and offers it to those who want to learn a new language. Here’s how they describe it at http://www.lingobites.com/:
LingoBites gives you what you’ve been looking for: a way to practice language through creative short stories tailored to your level and interest. Read or listen anywhere on your phone. Support authors from all over the world make a living from their craft and enjoy learning, all at the same time. We are currently in startup stealth mode, but sign up to be the first to hear about our launch plans!
It’s always great to be accepted for publication but in this case, my work will be a part of the process of – OMFG – literacy! That is a security clearance I seldom achieve, although I guess LingoBites might just as often be used by leathery travellers from Pittsburgh or Shaughnessy, or maybe Haywards Heath to polish up their “eye-tie” before a trip to the Continent. That’s okay with me – I’ll take readers of all stripes.
“Vi prego di mettere più whisky nel mio cameriere di bevande!”
And, lucky me, LingoBites has accepted a second submission of mine – one I wrote expressly for them. My editor at the publication suggested that serialized stories were a perfect fit because they allowed readers to establish and reuse a knowledge base of words, names, characters and settings developed while reading earlier instalments. My three-part story, “Of a Forest Silent” will also be appearing in LingoBites, after some editing.
It’s interesting to me how closely the publication works with the writer to ensure that the story is appropriate for learners. Within flexible boundaries, the editors strive to keep sentences short, to restrict the vocabulary and to keep cliches, local slang, and regional references out of the stories. I was afraid this might “dumb down” the prose, but instead, I find it clean and readable. (Many are nodding knowingly now – I can feel it!)
I will post publication links once LingoBites goes live. I am a bit hazy on how it will all be presented, but I do know that I can offer free admission to some folks based on my contributor status. More on that soon.
One more COOL THING: Some stories, in some languages, will be converted into audio recordings. I hope that my stories get this treatment as I am eager to hear my words presented by professional voice actors.
P.S. – you may go to the LingoBites site now and sign up for various early-bird offers and launch news.
allfornow – Mitch