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Memrise vs Duolingo
Find out which language learning app is better for you in this detailed comparison of Duolingo vs Memrise
Duolingo is quite possibly the most popular language learning platform in the world, being used by millions and millions of people each month. While slightly lesser known, however, Memrise has quietly grown to become a major player in the language learning industry. As a result, people often have a difficult time deciding between the two. In this comparison, we dig into the details so you can figure out which language app is best.
We’ve included jump-to links above so you can quickly navigate through this article.
Video Guide: Memrise vs Duolingo
In the above video, John (from the TPI team) covers everything you need to know about how the language apps from Duolingo and Memrise compare. For more detail, feel free to continue reading below.
How The Lessons Compare From Both Companies
To kick this comparison off, let’s discuss what the lessons from both companies are like first starting with Duolingo. Their lessons are fairly short. Each one is only about five to ten minutes long.
The lessons comprised of a dozen or so quick-hit drills and exercises that span listening, reading, writing and speaking. These drills include fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, sentence puzzles, translating sentences and completing mock conversations. Those are really the primary exercises you’ll complete, just in different variations and difficulty level.
Now moving onto Memrise, their lessons are actually analogous to Duolingo’s in several ways (i.e. a lot of quick-hit drills and exercises). However, there are two main differences.
First, the Memrise lessons typically start with a string of short videos featuring locals speaking in your target language who introduce you to new words and phrases (I’ll talk more about the benefits of video later in this comparison).
Second, with Memrise, you can adjust your preferences to control how long you want to each learning session to be. If you want to keep the lessons short, you can set your words per review session to 10. Alternatively, if you wanna stretch each lesson out, you can alter the settings to 50 new words or phrases per session in order to quickly make some big strides.
Pricing And Subscription Options
Next up, let’s compare pricing and affordability. Both Memrise and Duolingo actually offer a free version, but as you might imagine with anything that comes with a free price tag, there are some drawbacks. To cut to the chase, the free accounts from both companies are pretty limited, and as a result, most people choose to upgrade to a paid plan.
With Memrise, the upgrade would be the Pro Plan, which unlocks all content and features across their 20 or so languages. This costs around $8 if you want to proceed month-to-month, $60 if you want to pay up for an entire year, or $120 if you’re seeking a lifetime pass. With Duolingo, their premium subscription is called their Plus Plan, which costs around $7 per month or $84 per year.
Overall, pricing is extremely close, but technically Memrise does edge out Duolingo if you plan to sign-up for an entire year.
Why Memrise Is Better Than Duolingo
Now that you have some background regarding lesson format and subscription options, let’s cover the areas in which Memrise is superior to Duolingo.
Lessons Incorporate Videos Of Native Speakers
As I alluded to earlier, Memrise incorporates video into their lessons, which I’m a huge fan of as this is something you don’t see very often in the language learning industry. For context, the Duolingo lessons do not incorporate any video clips. You essentially just listen to your computer or phone speak words and phrases.
On other hand, with Memrise, you get to visually watch and listen to locals speak the target language, which feels a lot more intimate. You can observe their body language, hand gestures, and voice inflections as they pronounce words, phrases, and sentences. In my opinion, this is much more valuable than blind audio. The visual components really help you understand the nuances and learn the language quicker.
Effective For Learning New Vocabulary
Overall, I found Memrise to be an extremely useful tool for learning and memorizing vocabulary. Not to say that Duolingo is not, but I just found Memrise to be better in this department.
Memrise utilizes a spaced repetition learning system, which essentially means that as you complete lessons, you’ll be introduced to a word or phrase for the first time and then seconds later you’ll be asked to recall it, then minutes later, then days later. This ensures the words transfer from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. It’s your long-term memory that allows you to use what you’ve learned in real native conversations.
The other cool feature about Memrise is that they use adaptive technology in the background to personalize your sessions and readjust your lessons as you learn. Thus, if you’re having trouble with a particular phrase or a specific word, Memrise will prompt you to review it more often until it gets imprinted into to your long-term memory. Bottom line, I just found Memrise’s repetition system and their adaptive technology to be super effective for learning new vocabulary.
Hundreds Of Courses Covering Unique Topics
I also really like that Memrise gives you access to user-generated courses in addition to their own proprietary company courses. This gives you exposure to all sorts of different topics beyond the standard lessons that may be of interest to.
For example, within German, there are courses that cover local soccer leagues, biergartens, car racing, musicals, etc. I think it’s great that you can find super niche courses to match your amusements and passions.
Lastly, I found that compared to Duolingo, Memrise is better at using natural language and phrases. With Duolingo, this seems to be a lingering complaint among consumers and I even noticed it a couple times myself.
Now to play devil’s advocate, it does seem like Duolingo has improved in this area as of late, but you still occasionally come across an awkward sentence or phrase that sort of makes you do a double take. A couple examples of unnatural sentences or incorrect translations I noticed within the forums were “the bed is food” and “it called my fat”.
To be clear, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it can disrupt and muddle your learning process occasionally. Overall, the key point here is that Memrise seems to be more accurate when it comes to the language and translations used within its lessons.
Now that you have an idea of what Memrise brings to the table, let’s talks about the strengths of the Duolingo app/program.
Extra Resources For Learning
Duolingo offers users a bevy of extra resources for language learning. With Memrise, there’s really not much beyond their standard lessons and the user-generated courses. Duolingo, on the other hand, offers several different resources beyond their core curriculum:
Forums to connect with other learners to discuss tips and get answers to any questions
Podcasts for on-the-go learning
Online events where you can directly interact with other learners face-to-face via Zoom to practice speaking or discuss whatever is on your mind (this is my favorite resource)
These are all effective, free resources that learners can take advantage of within the Duolingo platform.
Speech Recognition Technology
Lastly, I like Duolingo’s speech recognition technology a little more than Memrise’s. Not only did I find Duolingo’s more accurate most of the time, but there are also a couple small quirks with Memrise’s speech technology that I wasn’t fond of.
Most notably, in order to speak, you have to click the microphone when you start, and then click it again when you’re finished, which can become annoying. I know this might sound hypercritical, but it does make a difference over time. With Duolingo’s speech technology, you only have to click the microphone button once, and then the recording will automatically stop once you are finished speaking. It’s a small complaint, I know, but it is worth mentioning.
After testing each program, I have to give Memrise the win. I love that their lessons incorporate videos of native speakers, their adaptive tech that optimizes your lessons in the background is effective, and I think their user-generated courses can be highly beneficial for folks who really want to dig-into specific subjects and topics.
Not to mention Memrise seems to be more accurate with translations, and it also doesn’t hurt that Memrise is more affordable than Duolingo Plus if you plan on signing-up for more than a few months. Therefore, all things considered, I have to give the edge to Memrise.