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.
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 that 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 apps 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. We know that 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 is 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 A2 (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.
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 about a half 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.
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.
Frantastique Review: What’s Frantastic and What Could Be Improved?
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 Some 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.
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 “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.
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?
Well, there actually is a French learning program designed to give you the best of both worlds. FluentU is the perfect supplement or alternative to other French learning programs like Frantastique.
Every FluentU video comes with interactive French subtitles. Click any word for an instant definition, grammar info and examples. After you’re done watching a video, multimedia flashcards and fun quizzes will ensure that you remember what you’ve learned.
And just like Frantastique, you can use FluentU anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS or Android. Now you have a well-rounded, totally entertaining French program wherever you go!
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 words in fill-in-the-blank exercises, and there’s no speaking practice.
A French language exchange would be a smart way to build off of 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.
Despite this, there are still French learning programs available for complete beginners that use immersive techniques to teach the language. FluentU, for example, 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 and can be used when more than just a little support is required.
Frantastique Limits Time Dedicated to French Study
For me, the biggest drawback of Frantastique is that learners 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 learners can only complete the lesson sent to them by email, and they can’t move ahead until they do. That means that lessons must be done in order and learners cannot choose which lessons they would 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 appeared to be there for me to complete, but I’m unsure how long I would be able to access it.
Learners can, however, supplement their time with other programs such as FluentU, where they can set their own pace and study as much or as little as they want in a given day or week.
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!
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. You'll receive video recommendations that suit your interests and current level of progress.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.