This course isn’t for beginners – you’ll be completely immersed in French
I had never heard of Francais Authentique prior to writing this review and upon checking out the website I was immediately intrigued as absolutely everything is in French.
Intended for intermediate learners looking to improve their fluency and take their language skills to the next level, the course is definitely not suited to beginners. It is, however, a great resource for intermediate learners as they will almost certainly make progress if they are motivated and put in the time!
The idea behind Francais Authentique is that by immersing yourself in the language, you will become accustomed to hearing it, improve your vocabulary and usage of French and eventually be able to speak it confidently and accurately.
Johan, the creator of the course, wants the lessons to be fun, interesting and above all authentic. As such it will definitely show you how French is really spoken and you will pick up lots of useful phrases and expressions in real-life situations.
The audio lessons are the main resource around which the rest of the material is based and they progress in difficulty over the three packs. What
you are getting is certainly French used in everyday life and the natural way in which Johan speak means that Francais Authentique is a lot better (in my opinion) than more renowned resources such as Pimsleur.
It is also superior when it comes to the written resources available to you and there is a thriving and supportive online community where you can practice your spoken French. There is a heavy emphasis on repetition and learners really need to embrace this if they are to get the most out of the material.
All in all, I think it is a fantastic, authentic resource for intermediate learners looking to progress in their French studies.
The content is split into three packs
Francais Authentique has three packs that progress in difficulty level and as aforementioned, each lesson is based around an audio file that is the principal focus of the lesson. Stemming from this audio lesson, there is:
- a PDF of the dialogue
- an audio file explaining the vocabulary used with a PDF of that too
- another audio using the vocabulary but in different scenarios (again with an accompanying PDF)
- a slower audio with gaps whereby you are meant to copy what they say and pronounce the sentences yourself.
Pack 1 has 4.5 hours of audio and there are five lessons included within it as well as fifty pages of text relating to the lessons.
Johan reckons this should take you at least three months to go through and he recommends listening to each audio a number of times.
At the beginning of each pack, there is a guideline on how best to use it which includes lots of repetition. He suggests listening to the principal lesson up to thirty times to really take in everything!
The guideline for each pack is really quite useful and in it Johan provides a suggested study timetable which helps to show how the material should be used. It also reminds you of the seven rules which will help you to get the best out of Francais Authentique:
- Listen during your dead time
- Don´t stress
- Learn by listening to stories
- Learn through the context
- Learn authentic French
In essence, this sums up a lot about how the course is presented and intended to be used and we´ll look more into this in the next section.
Pack 2 follows the same format and it contains 17 hours of audio lessons and around 125 pages of text.
These sixteen audio lessons are at a faster pace and they deal with real-life situations such as going to a restaurant, discussing a film and buying a train ticket. Included in this pack are another three lessons on how to improve your comprehension, how to express yourself better and also how to improve your pronunciation.
Pack 3 is slightly different as it includes videos of the interactions and scenarios.
There are fifteen lessons this time and this includes just under four hours of video, 14.5 hours of audio lessons and 180 pages of text.
While I have not had a chance to try out Pack 3 for myself, after watching their promo video for the pack you can see that they are speaking at a natural speed, using everyday language in the videos that they provide.
Overall there is a lot of material to go through and while it is slightly similar to Pimsleur in its approach, it is much superior in terms of the content provided and certainly a lot more natural and authentic in terms of what it teaches you. In addition, there are also great reading resources; something that Pimsleur doesn´t provide.
Getting started with Pack 1
Once you have paid for the pack and downloaded its contents from the email you receive, it is very easy and straightforward to begin using Francais Authentique.
Alternatively, sign up to the week-long trial and receive a different lesson every day – this will help you to evaluate whether this type of learning style suits you and if it is pitched at the right level.
First things first, open the guideline PDF that explains how you should use the resources. Johan applies the seven rules above to the lessons and in his opinion, you need to listen to the same audio between ten and thirty times (!!) for it to really take effect.
In his mind you should spend two weeks on each lesson, slowly moving between the different sections that the lesson includes to give yourself a bit more variation. This shows how the five lessons in pack one should take you at least three months to finish and a suggested timeline is also provided.
The theory behind it is that you should learn vocabulary and grammar automatically and relatively easily by listening to the lessons. As such there are no vocabulary lists for you to learn and no in-depth analysis of grammar.
By repeating the lessons a number of times, you will effortlessly recall the vocabulary and your confidence will grow as you pick up more and more phrases relating to everyday life.
The French is real and authentic and very natural to listen to.
As you will have seen with the guideline PDF, absolutely everything is in French and this is one of the great things about Francais Authentique; you won’t spend hours of your time listening to teachers explain things in your mother tongue.
After reading the guideline, it’s time to begin with the lessons themselves.
In the first audio of Pack 1, Johan speaks at a slow pace, pronouncing everything very clearly without it being exaggeratedly slow. In some of the audios, he has a conversation with someone else so that you get some variation and get to listen to other native French speakers.
The pace picks up over the next four lessons until in the final one they are speaking at an almost natural speed. While everything is clear and relatively easy to understand, I don’t know if I could bring myself to listen to them ten – thirty times as Johan advises.
In the beginning, Johan suggests that you read the accompanying PDF as you listen to the audio to help you follow what he is saying. It is really clear to follow and a useful resource to have; the words in bold are explained in the next audio.
After listening to the principal audio which is the basis of the lesson and reading the PDF, there is a vocabulary audio for you to listen to and a corresponding PDF which is again very useful to have.
Johan goes through the highlighted words and phrases and explains them (in French of course!). What is great is that he adds further to your vocabulary by using different sentences and new words to help you understand them.
Unlike with other resources where they will simply provide a translation, Francais Authentique makes sure that you learn the words in context.
In theory, this should help you to remember them better and actually know how to use them; something that doesn´t always happen when you learn words from a vocabulary list.
Once you have listened to this numerous times (repetition is key with this learning style) and the original audio as well, it is time to move on to the next audio of lesson one: stories.
This audio focuses on several words and phrases introduced in the first audio and Johan tells you a story which uses them all in different contexts.
The idea behind this is that you really learn these words and phrases and how they can be used in different scenarios. By using repetition, you hammer home their meanings and how they are used.
In theory, the different story will also help to keep things fresh so you are not always listening to the same thing. The corresponding PDF with all of the dialogue is again very useful.
The final section of each lesson is the pronunciation part whereby you repeat what Johan says in the gaps left to you. By doing this every day for a week, you should improve your pronunciation and also come to use the words automatically. A PDF is again there to help you follow along.
Pack 2: Authentic Dialogues – The content is structured very well
Pack 2 follows the same format as the first and the pace of the dialogue already approaches normal speed right from the first lesson.
This pack is called ´Authentic Dialogues´ and while the principal lessons vary in length, they are usually around five to seven minutes in length and will certainly introduce you to the French used in real-life situations.
What is great about these audio lessons is that, as with everything in Francais Authentique; every single word is in French. This is really the approaches greatest success as you are never given any respite from learning as you are constantly immersed in French all the time.
While some people may find this intimidating, others will enjoy the fact that no English or Spanish is used in any of the explanations. As highlighted in the guideline that Johan provides you with, if you put in the time and are disciplined in following the course, you will almost certainly improve your comprehension skills.
Through this, you will also improve your speaking skills and vocabulary. This approach relies heavily on repetition for you to intuitively pick up grammar and learn the vocabulary. Over time, both listening to French and then using it will become almost second nature.
This course relies heavily on repetition and is possibly it’s biggest weakness.
Repetition is absolutely key to it and not everyone will enjoy listening to the same audio up to thirty times as Johan suggests. I’m sure very few people actually repeat the content this much but they’ll still find good value in Francais Authentique.
I don’t think any material on earth is interesting enough to listen to that many times (but that might just be me and my learning preferences!). Having said that, the audio lessons cover a wide range of topics which include going to a hotel, buying a train ticket and asking for advice at the tourism office.
As aforementioned, there are various sections of each lesson and these are very all well thought out.
To start off, the principal audios deal with a lot of real-life situations, feature different native French speakers and are spoken at an almost natural speed. The language used progresses in difficulty and you will almost certainly learn a host of useful everyday phrases and words each and every lesson.
Johan stresses that you should take your time, relax and repeat the lessons as many times as you need.
While the content that the principal audios deal with is fantastic, Johan´s relaxing tone and clear pronunciation could benefit from being a bit more animated at times.
For instance, in one of the lessons, he tells his wife that he has just been in a car accident. His monotonous tone belies the seriousness of the situation and didn´t fill me with confidence that you could listen to the lessons as many times as he stresses is necessary to get the most out of the course.
What I really liked about each of the lessons was the accompanying PDF of the dialogue. It was really well done and makes it easier to follow the conversation the first time you listen to it.
Another great feature was the audios that looked at the vocabulary used in the lesson. These audio files often went up to thirty minutes in length and really looked at all of the complicated words and phrases used in the original audio.
Johan would sometimes spend up to three minutes explaining one word in detail by using it in different contexts and giving synonyms; all obviously in French. The level of detail was brilliant and really helped to clarify everything that had been said in the principal audio.
While this was great, what was a bit disappointing was that a PDF of everything he said in the vocabulary explanation audio wasn’t provided. I found that really useful to have in Pack 1 and thought it would have been good to have again. Instead, he highlights the words he looks at in the PDF that accompanies the principal audio.
After listening to the vocabulary and principal audio a number of times, it is time to listen to the ´stories´ audio that follows and this is based on vocabulary used in the original audio. I really liked this idea as you get to see the words and phrases you have learnt in different contexts and this should help to solidify what you have learnt so far.
The words are scattered throughout the story and it again goes to show how well thought out everything is.
I´m not entirely sure how Johan chose what words and phrases to focus on each lesson but they certainly get harder and harder! Again, it is really useful having a PDF of everything that is said in them and as always, the pronunciation of the text is very clear and easy to listen to.
It is in the final audio of each section that my qualms about this approach come to the fore.
The pronunciation audio sees Johan say a few different sentences and leave gaps for you to repeat them after him. It felt a bit weakly done in comparison with the other parts of the lessons.
While I have no doubts that the audio lessons and accompanying PDFs are great for intermediates looking to improve their comprehension skills and knowledge of real-life French, there are a couple of gaps in the material.
Although you learn the grammar intuitively, I do feel that at times a look at some of the grammar used could have been useful. Speaking too and writing takes a backseat but Johan argues that through listening to and immersing yourself in French, these will come easily as you gain confidence.
This is maybe why the pronunciation part of the course didn’t feel so particularly well thought out to me.
For someone looking for more practice with pronunciation, I’d suggest trying out Speechling. You can submit audio recordings of yourself saying phrases in French and then submit them for feedback from a French teacher.
Consequently, I feel that learners should supplement this course with other French resources that will fill in these gaps.
I think Johan himself alludes to this as you can also join his online academy and interact with other students who subscribe to it.
This is a facebook group where members can discuss the various topics with each other, write in French and organize chats with one another. Johan will also weigh in and help people out as will other moderators.
Instead of writing in French in this group and getting feedback from others still learning the language, I’d suggest trying out italki’s notebook feature. This makes it easy to have your writing corrected by native speakers, and it’s completely free.
Each month you receive a video on a part of French culture, audio lessons similar to the ones in the packs, the corresponding PDFs and motivational videos on how to learn French.
The number of participants is managed (you can´t currently join until the end of 2018) and this helps to keep the quality high as Johan can then respond more often to members and private messages. There is also a WhatsApp group for the elite. This support group then helps learners to motivate each other and interact in French, practicing what they have learnt.
On top of all the positives, another great thing about the packs is that Johan provides you with a lot of advice on how to learn French.
The guidelines he provides are really useful and the suggested timetables for following the lessons, show that he has clearly thought about how people can make the most of it. While I cannot comment on Pack 3, I would imagine that the content is of a similarly high level and again progresses in difficulty.
Loads of people have written lovely reviews and really seem to enjoy the product that Johan has created.
Personally, I think Francais Authentique really is a great way to learn authentic French. While I do have some qualms about the lack of speaking and writing, the content will almost certainly help take intermediate learners to the next level, provided they put the time in.
Again, I’d recommend italki as a means to improve your writing as well as finding an affordable tutor to practice speaking with.
Although I do believe it is effective, I just wish it was a bit more entertaining.
Plans and Prices
For French learners looking to see whether this approach suits their learning needs, head to the Francais Authentique website and sign up for a week-long free trial. Some people will love it, others may find it too repetitive.
Pack 1 serves as an introduction to Francais Authentique and costs 49 euros.
It contains five lessons which have a number of sections to them. All of the different parts of each lesson are based on the principal audio file. In total, there is 4.5 hours’ worth of audio, 50 pages of text relating to them and in Johan´s eyes this should result in at least three months of lessons. This is because repetition features heavily in them.
The guideline Johan provides is very useful and it highlights how best to get the most out of the material. In these lessons, the audio is slightly slow paced and this picks up to almost a natural speed in the next pack.
Pack 2 costs 99 euros and should take you at least eight months to complete.
There are 17 hours of audio and 125 pages of text. There are 16 lessons in total with the usual sections as mentioned above and there are also three audio files on how to improve your comprehension, your pronunciation and how to express yourself more clearly.
Johan does think about how to motivate and support learners and that shines through in the guideline he includes. Named ´Authentic Discussions´, this pack has various everyday conversations as the main focus of each lesson.
Pack three costs 149 euros, should again take you at least eight months and is called ´Authentic Videos´.
This time, the pack diverts slightly from the norm as it also includes just under four hours of videos which show daily life scenarios between Johan and his friend. There are 14.5 hours of audio and 180 pages of text accompanying these.
In total there are 15 different lessons based on real-life scenarios and conversations. If you order this option, you currently receive Johan´s ebook and audiobook with it as well. These also focus on helping you learn French.
There is also a Pack 4 but it is not currently available.
It includes three hours of video, three hours of audio and 122 pages of text. You can sign up to say that you are interested in receiving it when it becomes available.
Probably the best option available to you is Pack 1+2+3 combined.
This has all of the lessons, audio files, PDFs and videos mentioned above and costs 199 euros. That means that are are 36 hours of audio lessons, just under four hours of video lessons and 355 pages of text.
Like all of the packs available, this also comes with a one month guarantee so if you decide that they are not for you, you can simply ask Johan to be reimbursed and he will do so promptly.
Francais Authentique is definitely worth buying IF (and that’s a big if) you respond well to this type of teaching.
Repetition features heavily and while it is awesome that absolutely everything is in French, not everyone will enjoy listening to the same lesson ten – thirty times as Johan recommends.
That said the content is great, it really is real-life French as used every day in France and you will certainly get an authentic and well thought out product. Johan clearly cares about it and each pack has a PDF accompanying it that outlines how you can motivate yourself, how to plan your time and how to get the most out of the course.
When it comes to useful, authentic and well thought out audio lessons, I can’t imagine that there are many better options available out there. Already in Pack 2, the pace of the conversations is pretty much at a normal speed that native speakers would use.
Overall 199 euros seems quite a good price to me for everything that you are getting.
As well as the course itself, Johan has an active blog, an app for your phone and Podcast series which could be interesting avenues for French language learners. As he is interested in looking at what motivates people to learn languages and the ways in which they can do so, there are also a couple of motivational and personal development books on offer through the website.
This is authentic French as used by millions of people every day. Johan has created a great product in Francais Authentique which will immerse you in the language and he has really thought long and hard about how all the different sections of each lesson fit together.
While some people will not be too enthused by the amount of repetition that this type of course requires, others will enjoy the format. What is certain is that you will definitely improve through these lessons if you put the effort in and, as you will only be hearing French all the time, you will become more accustomed and used to the language.
Although you will probably need to use the course in conjunction with something else that focuses on speaking and writing, for improving your comprehension skills and vocabulary I can’t imagine many better options.
At 199 euros I think the combination of the three packs will help take intermediate learners to the next level and if they put in the time, I could see them soon becoming advanced learners and on their way to being fluent.
For students looking to learn real-life French as spoken by native French speakers, Francais Authentique is the course for you (providing you don´t mind the repetition!).