Langoly is supported by our readers. We review products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions if you buy through links on this page. Please read our full disclosure for more information.
If you are learning a new language, you might be looking for the best app to get you started. There are lots of apps you can use to study a language, but Duolingo and Memrise are amongst the few that offer most of their content for free. Between the two, if you want an app that can effectively increase your vocabulary with interactive exercises and different review tools, Memrise is the way to go.
Memrise and Duolingo are both popular language learning apps that you can use to learn the basics of a new language. They don’t have exhaustive language programs, but they have similar, game-like features to make your learning journey fun. But there are some key differences. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of each so you can make the right choice for your langage goals.
Duolingo vs Memrise: A Quick Breakdown
Memrise and Duolingo are apps that you can use to study the basics of the language you’re learning, but they have some key differences. While Memrise is mainly a flashcard app, it also allows its users to create their own language courses to expand on the content they have available. Memrise also has multiple learning and review modes to help you develop different areas of your target language.
Duolingo has more gamified elements, points you can collect when you complete a lesson, challenges, competitions, and more. It has a longer list of available languages including some endangered and fictional ones, but many learners have reported running into mistranslations in their Duolingo lessons.
The table below shows you a direct comparison of Duolingo and Memrise based on the languages, subscription prices, and free trials they offer.
Memrise vs Duolingo: Cost Comparison
Duolingo’s language courses are available for free but you need to purchase a Super Duolingo subscription (formerly Duolingo Plus) if you want to be able to make unlimited mistakes and get rid of the ads. A Super Duolingo subscription costs $12.99 per month, or $6.99 per month with a yearly subscription. You can also get a Family Plan for $9.99 per month and share your subscription with family and friends. You can try Super Duolingo with a 14-day free trial.
Memrise has a lot of content to teach you the language you want to learn for free. But, if you want to download its user-generated courses to your mobile device, you need to buy a subscription. A Memrise subscription costs $14.99 per month, $89.99 per year, or you can get lifetime access to the app for a one-time payment of $199.99.
Since both apps offer some of their content for free, you don’t really need to buy a subscription to either. Duolingo’s subscription doesn’t offer much value beyond being able to make unlimited mistakes and the annoying ads don’t appear as often. Even though Memrise is more expensive, I think its subscription can offer you more if you are are using it to study one of the offical language courses. What you can study for free on the courses developed by Memrise is quite limited without the subscription.
If you don’t feel like either of these apps is a good fit for you, don’t worry. There are still many other options that can help you reach your language goal. Here are three similar recommendations:
Duolingo vs Memrise: How They Work
Memrise and Duolingo are useful apps that can help you learn a lot of new words quickly. They both use interactive tools and gamified exercises as well as a spaced repetition system to make sure you retain what you learn. However, Memrise has features that can add more value to your study routine, like videos, user-generated courses, and different learning and review modes to develop multiple areas of language. Duolingo doesn’t let their users create their own language courses, but you can complete tasks and challenges, and compete with your friends to make your learning journey more entertaining.
Check out the table below to see how both apps rate across the web:
How Duolingo Works
Duolingo is well-known as a free way to learn a language. It’s a gamified app that motivates you in your learning journey. Each lesson is quick and uses a mix of fill-in-the-blank and mix-and-match exercises to introduce new vocabulary topics like greetings, family members, ordering food, etc. Duolingo also includes audio and voice recognition tools to help you become familiar with the language, and develop your listening and speaking skills.
You can win points every time you complete a lesson, track your progress, and compete with your friends on the Leaderboard, just like in a videogame. Duolingo gives you five “hearts” (chances to make mistakes) for free, but if you run out you will have to wait for them to fill to continue practicing. There are also additional learning tools available you can use to study, like stories, daily and weekly challenges, and podcasts.
The Duolingo app also has premium features like unlimited hearts once you subscribe to Super Duolingo. If you want to learn more about the app, you can read this complete Duolingo review.
How Memrise Works
Memrise is a flashcard app that uses spaced repetition to teach you a new language. Once you choose the level at which you want to start, you can begin learning sentences and phrases. You can also choose to study grammar or use one of the review tools to go over what you already learned.
The app also has different review modes that you can use to train your language skills. You can use the Communication review to work on your pronunciation or use the Immerse mode to watch videos of native speakers to develop your listening and speaking abilities. There are also game-like features like the Speed review that you can use to make the learning process more enjoyable.
Memrise has a big community, and you can find many user-generated language courses on its website. If you want to study on the go, you can get a Memrise subscription and download your course to your mobile device to practice when you are offline. You can read our complete Memrise review to learn more about the app.
Duolingo: Pros and Cons
Duolingo’s goal to make language learning accessible to everyone around the globe has made it one of the most popular apps for beginners. Its gamified approach and interactive tools can make using the app addictive and motivate you to keep learning vocabulary. Duolingo’s competitive features like the Leaderboard, daily and weekly challenges, and quests can make your learning experience more dynamic and fun.
There are 39 languages available, which include some endangered languages like Guaraní, Navajo, and Scottish Gaelic. You can also use Duolingo to learn fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian to immerse in your favorite fictional worlds. Most apps don’t offer such a large variety of languages as Duolingo, which definitely distinguishes it from other alternatives.
But many users have reported having issues with mistranslations and unnatural language in Duolingo’s courses. While Duolingo can help you learn a lot of vocabulary quickly, some of the phrases it makes you learn can be useless for daily situations you might encounter as a beginner. The frequency with which you can run into a mistranslated phrase can also make Duolingo feel like an unreliable source to study a new language, which is sad considering the amount of free content it offers.
Duolingo has a set lesson plan that doesn’t let you pick what to study next. You can take a test to jump to the next unit but, if you fail, you will be stuck until you complete the lessons or get all the answers in the test right. Overall, it doesn’t seem like it would be of much help for more advanced language students.
Memrise: Pros and Cons
The Memrise app is a great place to start learning a language like a game. It uses flashcards to teach you the meaning of words and has different learning and review modes to help you tackle grammar, speaking, and listening. You can use Memrise’s “Learn With Locals” feature to watch videos where native speakers teach you pronunciation and develop your listening skills. Memrise also has grammar lessons and reviews to make sure you really understand how to use the language.
Memrise allows its users to create their own language courses to expand the content offered in the app. There are hundreds of user-generated courses on the website that you can use to learn less common languages like Quechua, Latin, and Telugu. If you are subscribed to Memrise’s premium service, you can download these courses to your mobile device and practice even when you are offline, which can be helpful when you are traveling.
However, since Memrise doesn’t control the content in the courses created by its users, the quality can vary. Some courses have phrases that are used out of context and can be misleading if you are a complete beginner trying to learn basic communication. These courses might be practical, but you will have to do research and double-check to make sure you are learning the language the right way.
Even though Memrise uses spaced repetition to help you remember vocabulary, there is no linear connection between the sets of words presented in the lessons. This can cause complete beginners to learn phrases that are not useful for basic communication while traveling. Some language courses are also more developed than others, which can make this app not as useful for more advanced students.
Which Language Learning App is Better? Memrise or Duolingo
Memrise and Duolingo are both good apps to learn a language for free. They both have a gamified approach to learning and multiple languages available on their platforms. However, when it comes down to features, I would recommend using Memrise over Duolingo.
Duolingo uses many game-like features like collecting points, challenges, and quests, but has had many issues with unnatural language and mistranslated words over the years. It also lacks the community aspect that Memrise offers.
Memrise is similar but its courses are better at using natural language, closer to what you would hear in daily life. It also has different review modes and tools that other apps don’t offer, like videos of native speakers repeating phrases to train your listening and pronunciation. You can also download user-generated courses to the mobile app if you have a premium subscription which, in my opinion, makes Memrise more convenient than Duolingo.
Memrise and Duolingo: FAQ
Depending on your language goals, many apps can be better than Duolingo. Babbel and Mondly have comprehensive courses that can help you work on your vocabulary, grammar, listening, and speaking skills. You can also use authentic language resources like videos, podcasts, and news articles to develop a more natural understanding of the language.
You can use Memrise to learn vocabulary quickly, but you might need to use other language resources if your goal is to become fluent. Memrise has audio and voice recognition tools to teach you how to pronounce each word and phrase, but you can’t use them to practice conversation. You can use a platform like Preply or italki to find a native speaker to help you practice speaking.
Memrise is a great tool for learning the basics of a language, but it has some disadvantages. One area of improvement is that the vocabulary can get too repetitive and might be too simple for more advanced language students. Mondly and Rocket Languages are good alternatives with a similar approach to vocabulary and grammar.
Duolingo is better for you if you are a casual learner and want a gamified learning experience. However, if you want to build a solid base, and use video clips and audio tools, Memrise is better for you.