Astronautes FLS (Français Langue Seconde) is a crazy and fun French learning game you play with your friends and classmates using phones or tablets. Your team of 2-4 players is working together to fly a spaceship. To survive, you must follow the instructions and press the right buttons on your control panel on your phone. But there is a problem with your ship—your instructions are being sent to your friends’ phones, and your friends’ instructions are being sent to your phone! This means that if you want to survive, you must communicate and work together!
How long will your team be able to keep flying the ship? Will you be smashed by an asteroid? Will angry space dogs kill your ship? Or will you get burned up by a star? It all depends how well you are able to work together…
No. The game is free, there are no ads, and you can’t buy anything in the game! We are researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and our faculty and other research funding gave us the money to make this game.
You need an Android or iOS (iPhone, iPad) phone or tablet to play the game. The game uses Wifi or Bluetooth, so you also need to be in the same room as your teammates. If you are using Wifi, everyone needs to be on the same Wifi network.
Astronautes FLS has five levels of words, and each level has words that are used a lot in French. For example, Level 1 has many of the 1000 most used French words, and Level 2 has many of the 2000 most used words.
When you play Astronautes FLS, you will need to say the words in the game to your teammates, and your teammates will need to listen to you. Speaking and listening like this will help you learn. The game also has a place where you can practice slowly saying and listening to all of the words that are in the game.
Astronautes is a multiplayer game that is played using mobile devices (phones, tablets) over Bluetooth and WiFi networks.
In a game of Astronautes FLS, each player has his own control panel with labeled controls (see below). As a timer counts down, Player 1 will be given an instruction like this: “Branchez l’incendie!” The hard part is that the “incendie” control panel is located on Player 2’s screen. Player 1 must shout out to Player 2, “Branchez l’incendie!” so that Player 2 can quickly do the action on her screen before Player 1’s timer runs out. Meanwhile, as all of this is going on, Player 2 is receiving timed instructions (“Mettez le chapeau spatial sur 2!”) that must be executed by Player 1.
With up to four simultaneous players, a fun and chaotic atmosphere quickly develops in which the players desperately shout instructions to one another as their timer runs out. If they miss too many instructions, their spaceship blows up. If they manage to execute a sufficient number of instructions as a team, they are allowed to proceed to the next level.
Astronautes FLS can get pretty fast-paced at times, and teachers may want students to practice their pronunciation and listening outside the space of the game. The Practice feature of the game allows students to listen to the words in each level and to try pronouncing each word themselves.
Astronautes works best for low intermediate to advanced French learners who already have some capacity to read and pronounce French words, and to understand aural instructions. The game has several different speeds that it can be set to depending on the learner’s comfort with French and/or the game context.
Astronautes works best over WiFi networks, but it does not work well over all WiFi networks. Some networks in schools and universities do not allow the kinds of networking that the game needs. Before asking your students to use WiFi to play the game, it’s a good idea to run a test first to see if this option will work in your classroom.
In the event that WiFi does not work well, you can get your students to connect to each other using Bluetooth connections. This does not always work as perfectly as using WiFi, but it generally works reasonably well.
An even better solution, however, is to use a wireless router you bring from home to allow students to connect to the game. Just set up the router to have no password, and plug the router into the wall. You don’t need to connect the router to the internet, as the students are only connecting their own devices to each other through the router. Make sure to test this solution yourself before trying it with your students.