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Memrise Review: A Helpful Tool For Beginners

Chad Emery May 25, 2020
7.5 TOTAL SCORE

Great for beginners!

Memrise is a popular language learning app that uses flashcards to help you learn new words and phrases quickly. It uses a lot of unique features to enhance the flashcards and improve your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Most of its content is free, including a good portion of the official Memrise courses. It’s a great tool for beginners, but may not be very helpful for intermediate and advanced language learners.

LANGOLY'S REVIEW 7.5

User Experience 8
Quality of Content 7.5
Features Available 7.5
Value for Money 7

PROS

  • A lot of free content
  • Courses available for most languages
  • You can practice with friends

CONS

  • Features are different on the web, iOS, and Android version
  • Monthly subscription price is higher than others
  • Some features aren't available for all courses
Disclaimer: Langoly selects and reviews products independently. If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions that help support our testing at no extra cost to you.

Languages Available on Memrise:

Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portugese (Portugal), Russian, Slovenian, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Yoruba

Memrise Overview

Memrise is a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to help you remember words and phrases more effectively. It also uses game-like features, like leaderboards and points, to keep you motivated. Overall, it’s effective if you’re just starting to learn a new language but may not be helpful for advanced learners. While Memrise is good for learning vocabulary, it doesn’t teach much else. It’s a good idea to use a more comprehensive app in addition to Memrise. 

memrise is a really popular language app!

Memrise is one of the most popular language learning apps. It’s mainly a flashcard app, and it stands out from its competitors because of the science behind it. The creators of Memrise are a Princeton-educated neuroscientist and an Oxford-educated Grand Master of Memory. I think it’s safe to say they know how the brain works.

While the focus of Memrise is flashcards, you can also learn basic grammar in some of the content. These lessons aren’t very extensive though. They’re a decent place to start learning about difficult topics in your target language, but they won’t get you very far. For this reason, it’s possible to learn languages with Memrise, but only at a beginner level.

Memrise Price & Subscriptions

A lot of content is free on Memrise, and it’s good quality. Without paying, you can learn a lot of words and phrases, listen to and watch native speakers pronounce different sentences, and learn basic grammar in your target language.

For access to the premium features, a subscription costs $8.49 per month. A yearly subscription costs $59.99 ($5.00 per month), or you can get a lifetime subscription for $119.99. Any subscription gives you access to all languages and content available on Memrise.

memrise price 2022

Overall, I think the premium features add some value to Memrise, but I don’t think they justify the monthly price of $8.49. The longer subscriptions are heavily discounted though, and a longer subscription may be worth it.

Memrise Free Trial

There isn’t a free trial on Memrise, but so much of their content available for free that you can get a good feel for the app before buying a subscription.

Memrise Discount

If you like Memrise and plan to use it for a while, the annual subscription is worth it. Memrise also runs several discounts throughout the year on annual subscriptions that can be as cheap as $3.00 per month.

Memrise Review: Getting Started

You can sign up for Memrise on the website or app. Both are connected, so once you sign up for your account, you can use either device. The first step is to choose the language you speak and what language you want to learn.

getting started on memrise

A lot of apps tend to focus on English as the most common starting language of their users, but Memrise has a lot of different language pairs. For example, you can choose French, German, Portuguese, and many other languages. This makes learning much easier for speakers of that language so they don’t have to translate to English and the language they are trying to learn.

Memrise has created content for many different language pairings, and there is a lot more user-generated content that expands the courses you find on Memrise.

language options on memrise

After you select what language you speak and what language you want to learn, Memrise asks what level you’re at in your target language. Then you jump right into learning! Instead of walking you through a tutorial, after you create your account you go directly to the first lesson.

Memrise Review: Features

Memrise offers an app and a web version and you can connect to both. While the features are mostly the same, some of the content between the app and the web version is slightly different, which can be frustrating. Because of this, you need to use both options to access everything available. For example, the grammar lessons are only available in the app. Let’s take a look at some of the most important features and where you can access them.

Memrise Courses

The courses are the main activity. After you choose your language, you choose what course you want to take. There isn’t a level test, so you have to gage where you think you should start based on how much you already know. It’s easy to change courses if you find the one you started with as too easy or difficult. All the official memrise languages have 7 courses each. When you start a course, you’ll begin with the Learn Words and Phrases feature.

memrise features

Learn Mode is exactly what it sounds like. This includes flashcards with audio and video that teach new words and phrases. You cycle through these new flashcards to learn them, and the activities include multiple choice questions to identify the word, as well as writing practice. 

There is also a Learn Grammar option that shows you common grammar rules and patterns. This feature is only available on the app, and only for specific language pairs.

Classic Review helps you practice words you’ve already learned by asking multiple choice questions and having you write the words. Each word or phrase appears multiple times until you’ve successfully committed it to your long-term memory. The faster you answer correctly in classic review, the more points you receive.

Speed Review is similar to Classic Review, except the focus is on speed. When you answer correctly, every question awards you 25 points. The questions move really quickly, and you can only answer up to three questions incorrectly.

Immerse Mode includes “Learn with Locals.” This feature plays videos of native speakers pronouncing different words and phrases, and your goal is to identify what they’re saying. It’s also only available for certain courses. There is also “Listening Skills” practice that does not have any videos or pictures so you have to choose the correct answer based on audio alone.

Communicate Mode lets you practice pronunciation and give you feedback. I didn’t find this feature to be particularaly helpful because it told me that I said every word correctly, even when I didn’t. It gave no helpful feedback on how to correct pronunciation.

User Generated Courses On The Web Version

This feature is one of the most helpful, but it’s ONLY available on the web version. There are 23 languages available that have official Memrise courses, but the Memrise community is very active and have created their own courses for almost every language you can imagine.

Even the languages that Memrise has official courses for, there are hundreds of user-generated courses so you can continue to study and improve long after you’ve finished the official courses. But more importantly, there’s content available for less-studied languages that aren’t taught in almost all other language apps. You can find courses for language like Telugu, Swahili, Quechua, and more.

memrise user generated courses

If available, I would focus on taking the official Memrise course in your target language, but the user-generated courses can be a nice complement to the official course. Because the user-generated courses are made by different people, the quality of the content is different in each course. It’s nice to have a lot of courses to choose from, but I wish there were some minimum requirements for the user-generated courses.

A lot of features from the official Memrise courses also aren’t available in the user-generated courses. I really liked the videos in the Memrise Japanese course, but none of the user courses I tried had them. Some of them also didn’t have audio so I couldn’t hear the pronunciation.

Memrise Review: Overall Learning Experience

I liked using Memrise and think it’s a great tool to help you learn vocabulary and phrases effectively. The technology used to create the courses is top-notch. The content of the official courses is high quality, and the user-generated courses cover a large variety of topics. 

memrise french course

There are also quite a few features included in the free version of Memrise to help you improve your listening, writing, and reading skills. It’s worth a try just to see if you like it. In regards to the paid version, there are definitely more features, but I don’t think they justify the high monthly cost of $8.49 USD. They extend your ability to practice your target language, but they aren’t the most effective. 

The one premium feature I liked was the ability to download the courses and use Memrise offline. This feature alone could make the annual subscription worth it, which is already a lot cheaper than the monthly subscription.

memrise premium

The free and premium features are different between the web, iOS, and Android versions of Memrise, which make it a lot less user-friendly. The features also vary between the courses. You can learn more about the features available for each device in this article.

At the end of the day, Memrise is a flashcard program created to help you learn vocabulary. It does this well, and the free content is enough to keep you busy for a long time. It’s definitely worth giving Memrise a try. 

Memrise Review: Areas of Improvement

I enjoyed using Memrise and appreciate that a lot of the content is free. My biggest complaint is the user interface. The design isn’t very intuitive and can take some discovering to find all of the features available. Also I didn’t like that the user generated courses are only available online and are difficult to find.

There’s also many differences in what’s available depending on what device you use and which which language pair you choose. Some aren’t as well-developed as other languages available on the app.

The premium and free features are mixed together, so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s included in the free version. I accidentally clicked on a couple premium features (before purchasing a premium subscription), and was redirected to the purchase page every time. This interrupts the learning process and forces you to navigate back to what you were doing before. 

Memrise Review: Alternatives & Competitors

Memrise is one of many flashcard apps available. Some of its features are unique and make it stand out, but there are also a lot of other apps that are worth checking out. This Memrise review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning them! 

Memrise vs Drops

drops homepage

The Drops app is another app that focuses specifically on vocabulary. Drops has the benefit of having a larger selection of vocabulary lists, more languages available, and fantastic user desing Memrise’s design is not that user friendly, but includes audio and video of native speakers saying the words which is better to hear correct pronunciation.

The price of both apps is similar if you want to access all of the features, but Memrise offers more free content, and a large selection of user-generated content. You can try them both out with a free trial, or learn more about Drops in this Drops app review.

Memrise vs MosaLingua

MosaLingua App Homepage

MosaLingua offers several flashcard apps for a few common languages, like French, German, Spanish, and Italian. While Memrise is structured in courses, MosaLingua allows you to learn about whichever subjects you’re most interested in.

The MosaLingua apps are also cheaper than Memrise, and still offer a lot of high quality content. If you subscribe to the web version of MosaLingua, you can unlock a lot of extra features like ebooks and audiobooks, music videos, and resources from around the web. Memrise doesn’t offer anything similar to this. If you want to learn more about MosaLingua, you can read my honest MosaLingua review.

Memrise vs Babbel

babbel homepage

While Memrise is great for learning vocabulary, Babbel offers a more well-rounded approach to language learning. In each lesson, you’ll practice all areas needed to learn a language, including grammar, pronunciation, and more. Both apps have short and interactive lessons that have you responding to questions and learning new words and phrases.

Babbel costs more than Memrise, but it’s worth it if you only want to use one app to learn a language. Memrise isn’t a stand-alone app, but is a good addition to your studies if you use it in conjunction with another comprehensive resource. If you’re interested in Babbel, read more about it in this comprehensive Babbel review.

Memrise vs Anki

anki homepage

Another popular alternative to Memrise is Anki. Anki is a free and open-source flashcard software and app. It uses a similar spaced-repetition technology like Memrise, but it doesn’t have similar official courses. 

The flashcards on Anki are all user-generated, so you can find cards for pretty much any subject. It’s a really nice interface, but it can be a hassle to find useful flashcard sets or create your own. Overall, I’d say Anki and Memrise are pretty equal, but Memrise is a little better because of its official courses.

Memrise Review: FAQ

Is Memrise actually good?

Memrise is very good for what it’s designed for: teaching vocabulary. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive language course that will teach you grammar, speaking, and other essential language skills. But it will help you learn many new words in your target language. It’s entertaining and has enough variety of features that you’ll want to keep studying with it.

Can you become fluent with Memrise?

The short answer is no, Memrise won’t make you fluent. Since it is not a comprehensive language course, it doesn’t teach all necessary skills that will make you fluent in a new language. It does help with some aspects, teaching tons of new vocabulary words which you use in conversation. But to become truly fluent, you’ll need to use Memrise in addition to other resources.

Is Memrise or Duolingo better?

Memrise is better than Duolingo in some aspects. For example, Memrise has audio and video that feature real people speaking the language. But Duolingo is more comprehensive and includes aspects of grammar in addition to vocabulary. Both apps are a good starting point for learning a language, but neither will help you reach an advanced level.

Is Babbel or Memrise better?

If you are looking for only one app to study with, Babbel is by far the better choice. Babbel offers a comprehensive course that covers all important language skills including reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Memrise is meant to improve your vocabulary, an essential skill, but you’ll still need to use another app or book in addition to Memrise.

About This Memrise Review

This is an independent and unbiased Memrise review. Memrise did not sponsor this review. I personally used the web, iOS, and Android versions of Memrise to write this review, and I tested several different language courses to experience all of Memrise’s features.

Chad Emery

Chad started Langoly to help others learn and teach languages more effectively. He's a language enthusiast and loves reviewing language learning and teaching resources. In his free time, he's an avid traveler and loves running in new places.

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