The LingoBites app, created by Alsina Publishing, is a wonderful tool to learn languages by reading entertaining stories. These vary in length and style, from short tales to longer ones with more complex vocabulary. The idea is to progressively read more challenging stories as your knowledge of the language improves.
The app is incredibly intuitive, with a clear layout and a split screen. You can read the stories in the language you want to learn, which appears at the top, while checking it against the English version at the bottom. The book covers are beautiful and colourful so it’s quite addictive to read lots of pieces.
A wide array of very different writers from all over the world have created stories for LingoBites so it makes for an interesting selection.
Mine is a first and simple attempt at the thriller genre set in Stockwell. There’s an audio version in Spanish, read by actor Javier Fernandez-Peña.
Works I particularly liked were The Light Pool, a very genuine flash fiction piece by Canadian writer Mitchell Toews, and Sara’s Siren Song, a series about a male mermaid (a ‘merman’!) by American poet Beatriz F. Fernandez. There are also a couple of charming tales about animals and the sun and moon by Richard Bayley and Tere Rodriguez Nora.
Anyone can download the app and read three free stories a month. I also have a limited number of coupons entitling readers to two free months so do get in touch if interested. After that, the monthly cost of the app is very cheap anyway and it is easy to cancel the subscription. LingoBites is a lovely way of discovering new writers and learning or improving language skills. It has also created a paying market where writers can submit their short fiction, which is rare nowadays.
Aesthetic Appreciation, Flash Fiction in the 2016 issue of the Kentucky Review.
Short Fiction Category (3,600 words and under):
Winner: ‘Looking the Other Way’ by Fiona Knowles-Holland
Runner-Up: ‘The Lemon Tree’ by Alice Curham
Highly Commended: ‘The Eyes of Reason’ by Bella Reid (Patricia Duffaud)
Flash Fiction Category (360 words and under):
Winner: ‘Naranjito’s Daughter’ by Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Runner-Up: ‘If Only…’ by Barbara Oldham
“The short fiction category was judged by Cathy Galvin, creator of The Word Factory as well as founder and director of The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Fiction Award and editor of Red: The Waterstones Anthology; Francesca Haig, poet and author of Bodies of Water whose writing has appeared in journals and anthologies in both Australia and the UK, including Motherlode: Australian Women’s Poetry 1986-2008; and Richard Beard, author of Lazarus is Dead and Director of the National Academy of Writing.”
Southern Comfort, flash fiction just published in issue 2 of the Puffin Review.
“It did well, that bottle, lasting as it did until 2am. The widow went to bed so it was just you and your husband and the two teenagers, and the drink hit them fast. At the start, you probably meant to be supportive as you questioned the drunken orphans. But as anecdotes poured out your eyes narrowed and gleamed.”