Test Prep Insight is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Memrise vs Babbel
A detailed comparison of the language learning apps/courses from Babbel and Memrise
Memrise and Babbel are two of the most popular language learning tools in the entire world, and as a result, people often have a difficult time deciding between the two. From the surface, it can be confusing trying to decipher between the lessons and apps from both companies, as they appear somewhat similar. That’s where our team steps in. We’ve tested both language programs and now we’re ready to break down the strengths and weaknesses of each company’s lessons and learning framework.
Given that this is a lengthy, detailed comparison, we’ve included jump-to links above for quick navigation.
Video Comparison: Babbel vs Memrise
In the above video, team member John provides a detailed analysis of where we see each of these language apps winning over one another. For a more detailed evaluation, please keep reading.
Reasons Why Babbel Is Better Than Memrise
To kick this comparison off, let’s discuss the strengths of Babbel in relation to Memrise.
Grammar Content And Instruction
The first advantage in favor of Babbel is that they make grammar content and instruction a priority, whereas with Memrise, grammar sort of takes a backseat. Plus, I like that Babbel doesn’t overwhelm you with long, boring explanations of grammatical principles.
Instead, they integrate grammar instruction into their lessons in a very manageable and efficient way. For example, one grammar exercise might include just a brief one or two sentence explanation in your native language regarding feminine nouns or adjectives vs adverbs, and then you participate by filling in blanks in example sentences to ensure you understand the concept.
So overall, I have to give Babbel two thumbs up for going out of their way to emphasize grammar within their lessons and make it easy for users to understand.
Better For Developing Conversational Skills
Next up, I think Babbel does a better job than Memrise of developing your speaking skills. I just think their verbal exercises are a little more robust than what Memrise offers within lessons. With Memrise, you’re really just asked to repeat words and phrases independently. Plus, their speech recognition technology is just average. I definitely think Babbel wins in that regard as well. Therefore, when it comes to practicing your conversational skills, I’d give Babbel the edge over Memrise.
However, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t consider either to be industry leaders in this respect, so if you value verbal practice over everything else, you may want to check out Pimsleur or Rocket Languages. Their language programs do a really good job of encouraging you to practice using your target language by responding to native speakers within the context of simulated conversations.
Live Classes Are Awesome
The last advantage in favor of Babbel is that they offer live classes. Now, to be clear, these classes are not included in Babbel’s standard subscription packages. You do have to pay extra, but essentially, the company offers hundreds of small-group live classes per week across all different learning levels. By the way, when I say small-group, I mean no more than 6 students per class.
Each class is typically around an hour long and covers all sorts of different topics. For example, if Italian is your target language, the class topics might range from Italian dining to phrases you need to know for work to historical events. The topics really do vary widely. You can learn about some really interesting topics, all while improving your language skills.
Overall, these live classes are just a fantastic way to dive deeper into specific subjects, converse with your peers, and learn from experienced instructors. Furthermore, since there are so many classes to choose from, you can basically pick the days and times that work for you and drop-in and out of the classes as you please.
Now that you some background for what Babbel has to offer, let’s talks about what Memrise brings to the table.
Videos Of Locals
The first advantage in Memrise’s favor are the videos they incorporate into their lessons. This is a pretty unique feature that you don’t see very often in the language learning industry (apart from the Busuu app). For example, with Babbel, there are no videos, only audio, text and images. However, with Memrise, you actually get to watch video clips of locals speak the target language, which just feels a lot more intimate and personal.
You can observe their body language, their hand gestures, and their inflection when they pronounce certain words and sentences, all of which in my opinion, is extremely valuable. This really helps you understand the nuances and learn the target language faster. So all in all, I have to hand it to Memrise; I love that their lessons use video to help illustrate the language.
Hundreds Of Courses Covering Unique Topics
The second advantage for Memrise is the fact they offer customers access to hundreds of user-generated courses in addition to the company’s own proprietary courses. This allows you to go beyond the standard lessons and really dig-into specific topics that may be of interest to you. For example, if you’re learning German, there are courses that cover local soccer leagues, car racing, musicals, and more.
The last advantage in favor of Memrise is the fact you can customize the length of lessons and learning sessions, and really sort of mold the program around YOUR schedule. If you have a lot of free time, you can crank up your words per review session to 100 and quickly make a lot of progress.
On the other side of the coin, if you have a full-time job or you’re a busy mom or dad and only have a few minutes to spare each day, you can set your words per review session to 5 and really slow things down to fit your individual calendar. Overall, it’s just awesome that Memrise offers you that sort of flexibility.
Now that you have some context regarding the strengths of both companies, let’s quickly compare pricing, first starting with Babbel. They offer a few different plans, ranging fromaround $7 per month for their one year plan up to $14 per month for their pay as you go plan. Alternatively, you can purchase a lifetime pass, which includes access to all languages for around $500. Therefore, it just depends on how long you want to commit to and pay for in advance.
Now Memrise, on the other hand, is a little different in that they actually offer a free version. However, as you might imagine, Memrise’s free version is somewhat limited, so as a result, a lot of folks opt for the Pro Plan, which unlocks all Memrise content and features across their 20 or so languages. The Pro Plan costs around $8 if you want to go month-to-month, $60 if you want to pay up for an entire year, or $120 if you want to purchase a lifetime pass.
Comparing pricing, it’s pretty clear Memrise is the cheaper option if you’re on a tight budget, but really, the plans from both companies are quite affordable. I should mention though that Babbel does offer a 20 day money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied, so that’s a nice insurance policy.
Final Verdict: Memrise vs Babbel
After testing each program, it’s a very close call as to which language app/course is better. One program doesn’t stand head and shoulders above the other in my opinion. On one hand, I like that Memrise incorporates videos of native speakers into their lessons, and their vast library of user-generated courses is super valuable.
However, on the other hand, I like that Babbel makes grammar more of a priority, I like that their lessons are bit better for developing your conversational skills, and of course, their live classes are awesome. I guess if I had to pick one, I’d probably lean towards Babbel, just because I think their language courses overall are a little more well-rounded. Again though, it’s a very close call. I don’t think you can go wrong with either Memrise or Babbel.
Which language app/course is better, Memrise or Babbel?
After testing the apps/lessons from both companies, our team thinks Babbel is the more effective language learning program. We like Memrise’s program and give it high marks, but Babbel is slightly more well-rounded.
Which app is more affordable, Memrise or Babbel?
The subscription plans from both companies are fairly affordable; however, Memrise is technically cheaper than Babbel.
Do Memrise and Babbel offer money back guarantees?
Yes, both Babbel and Memrise offer customers money back guarantees if they are not satisfied for some reason.
What is the difference between Memrise and Babbel?
In comparison to Memrise, Babbel’s lessons are just more comprehensive and well-rounded. For example, the Babbel lessons make grammar more of a priority and do a better job of developing your conversational skills.