Frantastique Review: What’s Frantastic and What Could Be Improved?
Learning French online is a luxury that previous generations could only dream about.
In fact, our ancestors might say that all these new technological advances in French learning are practically otherworldly.
Especially when you consider a program like Frantastique that teaches French using aliens!
Yes, you read that correctly: aliens.
But not scary aliens. I’m talking empathetic, cute aliens.
How does it work? Does it even work?
That’s exactly what this Frantastique review will explore.
We’ll give you the rundown on the Frantastique French learning program—including what you can, and can’t, expect to get out of it.
Meet the Parent: Gymlish’s Frantastic Offerings
Even though Frantastique is a program that focuses on teaching the French language, its parent company, Gymlish, offers so much more.
For starters, all of Gymlish’s offerings are based around four basic principles: a daily lesson, a story, microlearning and adaptive learning.
In essence, Gymlish strives to create learning material revolving around a story that’s delivered to you daily in short but regular bursts. Their learning materials evolve with you, adjusting course content as your needs, skills and desires change.
Let’s take a look at some of Gymlish’s additional features and resources for language learners that extend beyond Frantastique.
Frantastique Orthographe (Frantastic Spelling)
In addition to Gymlish’s straightforward French learning course, Frantastique, learners can also take a course that focuses exclusively on French orthographe (spelling).
This course is offered completely in French, so learners should have at least a base in the language.
Like its main course, daily lessons are delivered to the learner’s email inbox, and the lessons revolve around Victor Hugo. According to the story, the writer has been cryogenically frozen and awoken by an intergalactic agency to help master the French language.
Each lesson comes with exercises aimed at mastering French spelling, and the course offers immediate feedback, giving learners corrections and helpful notes for future spelling tasks.
In true Gymlish fashion, there’s a healthy dose of French culture, and the story is so captivating that it’s easy to forget you’re mastering French spelling.
French Grammar Lessons
While the Frantastique course itself tackles a lot of French grammar that’s crucial for learners to know, there are also French grammar lessons available on the Gymlish website.
These grammar lessons are pretty short, but they pack a lot of information. Each gives an explanation of the French grammar point in English, plenty of example sentences and links to related grammatical concepts.
Topics include basic ones such as definite articles and subject pronouns but also more advanced subjects such as irregular adjective agreement rules and the relative pronouns qui (that) and que (that).
Additional French Courses
Gymlish also has courses for more advanced topics in French. For example, you can take a course on entrepreneurship, finance and even a course on increasing your brainpower. In fact, that last course is a special partnership between Gymlish and Le Monde, a world-class newspaper and media company.
Keep in mind that these courses are offered completely in French, and they cover pretty advanced topics. It’s a good idea to have a high level of French before enrolling.
Other Language Courses
Interested in learning a language in addition to French? Gymglish also offers courses in Spanish and German, as well as beginner and advanced courses for English learners.
All the language courses follow the same basic idea as Frantastique, using a fun story to teach the language.
Plans for the Future
While Gymlish already offers so many great things for language learners, it’s clear that their plans for the future include growth and—surprisingly—sustainability!
In 2005, Gymlish made Greenlish a cornerstone of its business model, aiming to become a carbon-neutral company as well as investing its profits into green initiatives in Europe and around the world.
In fact, they’re proud supporters of projects such as solar energy production in Namibia and forest conservation in Bolivia.
Whatever the future holds for Gymlish, it’s certain that the company will keep learning French engaging and environmentally friendly.
Frantastique Review: What’s Frantastic and What Could Be Improved?
Gymlish seems like a great company, but does Fantastique hold up to its promises? Let’s find out.
What Does Frantastique Offer?
Frantastique offers online French lessons for individual learners, businesses and educators. The entire program is delivered in French, so it’s an immersive learning experience right from the start.
To get an honest look at the product, I signed up for a free trial.
Upon signing up, Frantastique sent me an email right away. In fact, paying subscribers get a new lesson sent to their email inbox each day. These emails are short machine-generated messages that let you know that your daily lesson is ready, complete with a short teaser of the lesson.
By clicking on the “Start Your Lesson” button in the email, I was brought to my new lesson, which included a short video and exercises that are then corrected with feedback (more detail on this process later). This feedback is also sent by email so learners don’t lose track of their work or the notes they’ve been given.
After completion of at least six months of the Frantastique course, participants receive a certificate of completion. If you sign up for Frantastique Pro, you can even receive a certified diploma—a professional training diploma that’s officially recognized in France.
What I found interesting was Frantastique’s claim that it uses an algorithm that learns more about you as you complete lessons. The program then caters future lessons to your needs and goals. According to Frantastique, it takes as little as a week of lessons to do this, so personalization happens pretty quickly.
Aside from its online availability, you can also get Frantastique as an app for iOS and Android.
What Types of Membership Does Frantastique Offer?
Frantastique offers three pricing plans, Basic, Premium and Pro, and they’re charged on a monthly basis:
- The Basic plan is priced well compared to other weekly, online French courses without teachers or tutors at €21 a month. With the Basic plan, you get all the lesson content and personalization features.
- The Premium plan is the best value for money with Frantastique, in my opinion, at €32 a month. On top of the personalized lessons, you also get specialized content to learn French for a range of fields including medicine, the arts, tourism and more for a small increase in price from the Basic plan.
Frantastique also prioritizes technical support requests from Premium (and Pro) users.
- The Pro plan is also a good deal considering its features at €42 a month. In the Pro plan, you get everything in Premium as well as direct teaching support from Frantastique’s team. This doesn’t mean you get French lessons, but you’re able to be in contact with the pedagogical team for comments, feedback and questions. As mentioned earlier, Pro users can also earn a certified diploma.
In addition to these three plans for individual users, Frantastique can also be purchased for use by corporate enterprises and educational institutions. This allows access for all learners involved as well as administrator privileges to track learner process. These plans also come with Basic, Premium and Pro levels that allow for increased customization.
Frantastique’s Video Lessons: Learning Through Otherworldly Context
Once you’ve decided to be abducted by aliens to learn French as I did, you’re immediately sent your first lesson. Each lesson starts with a short video that features the cute alien characters in fun situations.
In the first video lesson I completed, for example, the aliens find cryogenically frozen French historical figures such as Édith Piaf, Napoléon and Victor Hugo. After some discussion, the alien characters decide to bring Victor Hugo back to life.
I found that this story, while absurd, was great for learning French in context: I got exposure to useful French vocabulary through actual sentences. It’s easier for the brain to make connections this way, and new vocabulary is apt to stick, especially in a story that’s as memorable as the one presented in my first lesson!
A great addition to the videos is that they have the option to include French subtitles alongside the French audio. Underneath the video, there’s also a French transcript. I did find it odd that there was no English translation or transcript, but this may not be a problem for high intermediate learners.
Further, the lesson allows you to choose the vocabulary in the transcript that you don’t understand for translation and explanations under the sélectionnez votre vocabulaire (choose your vocabulary) button. At the end of the lesson, Frantastique sends you an explanation of these words and phrases when you get your emailed feedback. Presumably, this selected vocabulary also plays a role in shaping your future French lessons.
In fact, these words become a part of Frantastique’s personalized revision schedule of memory tests. After you click on a word, the Frantastique system banks this word and includes it in future lessons and practice activities. This allows the word to stay fresh and active in your memory, making it easier to recall and use this French word in the real world.
As for Frantastique, I also found the post-video lesson interface quite easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. The information was well-organized and the instructions were so clear that I didn’t have to guess what I had to do next.
After I watched the video and saved relevant vocabulary, there was a mixture of comprehension and grammar questions. The comprehension questions asked me to find information from the video or the French transcript, whereas the grammar questions asked for fill-in-the-blank answers regarding verb conjugations, noun gender, adjectival agreement and more.
The grammar questions are also catered to your needs, starting off as basic grammatical concepts and growing into more complex practice as you advance.
For example, in the Victor Hugo lesson, the grammar lesson focuses on the conjugations of basic verbs such as être (to be) and avoir (to have) and personal pronouns. Each exercise is matched with a clip from the original lesson video to prompt your memory and aid you through the exercise.
Under these exercises, I also found it useful that there were two boxes I could check that would shape my later experiences. The first was Inutile de réviser which means “no need to revise.” The second option was Je ne sais pas meaning “I don’t know.” I gleaned that checking either of these boxes would help the algorithm determine my level of French so it could send me personalized lessons later on.
All in all, the entire first lesson took me about half an hour to complete, from watching the video, carefully combing through the transcript and completing the eight comprehension and grammar exercises. According to Frantastique’s website, the program is based on microlearning, and they tout that each lesson can be done in 15 minutes. I suppose it’s possible, but I wanted to get the most out of my lessons, so I took my time.
Dessert of the Day: A Sweet Finish to Each French Lesson
Who doesn’t like dessert? No one. The answer is no one.
And like a good dessert, Frantastique’s “Dessert of the Day” features a satisfying sweet taste in the learner’s mouth.
At the end of each lesson in Frantastique, you get to experience authentic French culture with the lesson’s “Dessert of the Day.” Each dessert includes a clip of a well-known French film, TV show, song or piece of literature. You can watch along as well as get a short transcription of the video clip.
As usual, you can select which French words you’d like to explore further, really helping you get to the root of the French language—and the cultural significance.
This wonderful addition to the lesson offers a dimension of real life to the course and keeps the dynamic culture behind the language at the forefront.
Lesson Corrections: Fast Feedback in Your Inbox
After completing the lesson and its exercises, I simply clicked the envoyer (send) button for a complete correction of my work.
Almost immediately, Frantastique emailed me a detailed correction of each comprehension question. While these corrections were obviously computer-generated and not made by an actual teacher, I was surprised at how well done they were.
The corrections not only included the correct answers to my work but also an explanation of why some answers were correct and others were incorrect. This type of feedback is invaluable for French learners—crystal-clear explanations allow learners to use new constructions properly without confusion.
For grammar questions, the corrections are just as in-depth. Each includes grammar notes and tips. While the corrections and explanations are given in French, there’s also a button available for the corrections and notes to be read in English.
Further, while the corrections include the names of French grammatical concepts such as pronoms démonstratifs (demonstrative pronouns), simply hover your cursor over the concept to open up a window explaining the concept further.
Okay, So What Makes Frantastique Work?
Quite frankly, Frantastique is a fantastic way to learn French. Here are the top features that jumped out at me.
In-depth Lesson Material
First of all, the detail included in the lessons is amazing. Often, the trouble with learning French online is that explanations related to vocabulary or grammar are limited by the “bite-sized” platform.
By contrast, Frantastique’s email format allows it to deliver thorough explanations. This is true for both the lesson content itself and the corrections—which especially means that much of the guesswork of grammar is taken out.
Immersive Learning with English Support
While having access to a program that’s completely in French is beneficial for an immersive experience, the ability to toggle between French and English when receiving instructions and explanations is also a great feature.
This ensures that you’re primarily learning French in French—which is faster and more effective than trying to learn everything by translating from English—but minimizes confusion and prevents you from hitting a wall.
Furthermore, all users have access to the Frantastique forum. This is a place to meet other learners, get motivation and even help each other out when French learning becomes a little tricky.
Frantastique is unique in that it mixes the language with French culture, using French music and historical figures to guide the topics of instruction. This gives context to the language and allows it to come alive in your inbox.
Special Levels for Targeted Learning
There are also little details that make Frantastique a fantastic way to learn French.
Not quite ready for the French-only lessons? Frantastique allows learners to choose the bas niveau (low level) mode to get the activities in simpler French. As previously mentioned, Frantastique determines your level of French after the first seven lessons in order to send lessons catered to you.
Frantastique also offers a kid-friendly version. Learners can choose between the “spicy” and “non-spicy” mode. Spicy mode may contain adult language and situations, but non-spicy mode is safe for even the youngest of learners.
Frantastique also offers something for advanced French learners. There’s a version available for native French speakers that could be used if you already have a high level of French and you want to brush up on the language.
Real-time Data in the User Space
Each learner with Frantastique is equipped with a User Space that allows you to conceptualize and direct your French learning.
By clicking on your name at the top right-hand corner of the lesson screen, you’re taken to a wealth of options and data to help you optimize your learning.
For increased control, you can select your areas of interest and change them at any time. These include specific learning skills, lesson topics and even specific French accents. You can also access your lessons in read-only format, corrections and select grammar and vocabulary tips from previous lessons.
Best of all, you can access your personal learning statistics. This includes your participation rate, your total time learning as well as your French levels in communication, grammar and vocabulary.
Completely Mobile French Learning
In the beginning, Frantastique was exclusively offered as a daily email course. In the last couple of years, the format of the course has diversified and it’s become more mobile than before!
Namely, Frantastique now has mobile apps that you can download right to your phone. The apps do the same as the daily email: They notify you of your new daily lesson, they give you a quick but information-packed French lesson and they adapt to your skills and needs as you master the French lesson.
The best part is that the entire Frantastique course can now be completed in the app itself. It’s completely mobile-compatible, meaning that you can truly bring French learning anywhere you go, whether during your train commute, at the doctor’s office waiting room or in line at the grocery store.
Frantastique’s app is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
What are Frantastique’s Drawbacks?
While Frantastique is a comprehensive and accessible way to learn French online, there are a few hitches.
Lack of Authentic French
While Frantastique’s French lessons are fun and catchy, they won’t give you an opportunity to learn everyday French that you’d hear on the streets in Paris. I mean, how many aliens are you poised to meet on a one-week trip to France?
At first, that might not seem like a big deal. How would you learn from native-level French before you can really understand it?
As of late, Frantastique has done a great deal to address this. They’ve added more authentic French usage as in their “Dessert of the Day” feature as well as through the opportunity for learners to choose informal French or a specific French accent as an area of interest.
Despite this, the level of French used in the program is quite academic and “standard,” which may lead to some blunders in authentic French-speaking situations.
For an alternative option, or if you’re looking for something to complement Frantastique’s features, you can consider FluentU. This program is a great option if you’re looking to add more authentic French to your learning regiment. FluentU offers content in French the way it’s actually spoken, with content like TV show clips, news reports and authentic informal French conversations.
Each FluentU video comes with subtitles in both English and French. Simply hover over a French word for an instant translation into English. Need more information? Click on the French word for an in-depth dictionary entry complete with grammatical information and additional example sentences.
The program offers six levels of audio and video content ranging from zero knowledge of French up to advanced French learning. This means that while absolute beginners are immersed in a French-only online environment, English subtitles and explanations are only a click away.
Better yet, you can save all your unknown words as flashcards with FluentU for later review. This allows you to practice these words, and each comes with a progress bar for you to see how well you can recall these French words.
And just like Frantastique, you can use FluentU anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS or Android.
Writing and Speaking Skills Are Missing in Action
With Frantastique, the emphasis is on reading and listening. That means that there aren’t many opportunities to write more than a couple of words in fill-in-the-blank exercises, and there’s no speaking practice.
A French language exchange would be a smart way to build on your Frantastique learning. You’ll have the opportunity to apply your new skills during your speaking practice—and you can get some writing practice, too, by emailing or texting with your language exchange partner.
Frantastique Starts at the Intermediate Level
While Frantastique appears to teach beginner French, and learners with low levels of French could benefit from its immersive methods, it’s obvious that you do need a basis in the French language to use Frantastique.
Since the program is delivered entirely in French with limited English, it might be a trying and inconvenient experience for those who have no knowledge of French at all. This means that it’s not necessarily the ideal option for absolute beginners.
If you find the program a bit too difficult for you, you may have to first improve your level with other programs.
Frantastique Limits Time Dedicated to French Study
For me, the biggest drawback of Frantastique is that you can only receive five lessons a week, once a day, with no opportunity to set your own pace or work ahead—no matter what pricing plan you’re on. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that a learning path or a curriculum is available for learners to peruse: that’s all left up to Frantastique itself.
This could be a deterrent for learners who want to dedicate more time to French or who want more control over what they’re learning. While trusting an algorithm removes a lot of the stress from learning French, it also removes agency. What if I want to study something that the algorithm isn’t offering me yet?
In fact, it appears that you can only complete the lesson sent to you by email, and you can’t move ahead until you do. That means that lessons must be done in order and you can’t choose which lessons you’d like to complete.
I also noticed that if you miss a day’s lesson, you get a relance (resend) duplicate email the next day. If you wait too long, however, it appears that the lesson disappears when you try to click the link. The error message does send you to your “User Space,” where the lesson was there for me to complete, but I’m unsure how long I’ll be able to access it.
Does that mean Frantastique is worth skipping? Definitely not. Frantastique is a great way to learn French online, and its attention to detail is something to be admired.
Whether on its own or in conjunction with another online learning method, Frantastique is ready to bring your French to the galaxies and beyond!