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Memrise vs Pimsleur

See which language learning app/course is more effective in this detailed Pimsleur vs Memrise comparison

Pimsleur and Memrise often get grouped together as close competitors in the language learning industry. While both appear similar on the surface, with online courses that are sleekly designed and have engaging lessons, the two programs actually differ quite a bit. In this comparison, we break down the primary differences between these two language companies so you figure out which one best fits your learning style, goals and budget.

  • Price
  • Refundable
  • Lesson Length
  • Verbal Practice
  • Languages Covered
  • Grammar Instruction
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    • $20/mo
    • 45-60 Minutes
    • Heavy Emphasis
    • 50+
    • Thorough Coverage
  • Memrise Free Trial Applied In Cart
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    • $23/mo
    • 10-15 Minutes
    • Very Light
    • 20+
    • Minimal

Outline: Pimsleur vs Memrise

Since this is a detailed article, we’ve included jump-to links above for quick navigation.

Video Review: Memrise or Pimsleur?

In the above video, John (from the TPI team) breaks down everything you need to know about the Memrise and Pimsleur courses, including how they compare in terms of features and functionality. For more detail, continue reading below.



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  • Interactive audio lessons do an excellent job developing your speaking abilities
  • Lessons are better for intermediate to advanced learners as compared to Memrise
  • Complete lessons on the go or while driving
  • The reinforcement exercises are great for boosting retention
  • New voice coach feature provides instant feedback on your pronunciation
  • Interactive audio lessons are somewhat lengthy
  • Slightly more expensive than Memrise
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Why You Should Choose Pimsleur Over Memrise

To begin this comparison, let’s start by discussing the areas in which Pimsleur is superior to Memrise.

Interactive Audio Lessons

The first area in which Pimsleur is superior to Memrise are their interactive audio lessons, which really help to develop your conversational skills.

Instead of just listening or reading an individual word or phrase and then repeating it in order to learn it, like you do with Memrise, the Pimsleur audio lessons are much more detailed and comprehensive.

Pimsleur audio
Pimsleur’s interactive audio lessons are incredibly effective

Their interactive lessons prompt you to respond to a native speaker using words, phrases and sentences in the context of an actual conversation (somewhat similar to the audio lessons from Rocket Languages).

You’re actively involved in tracking the conversation and the moderator of the audio lessons keeps you engaged since you need to understand the situation and respond at the proper times.

In my opinion, this active participation is powerful at getting you to recall and use the target language under pressure just as you would in REAL LIFE situations.

That is the key point here, you’re getting simulated real world experience with Pimsleur, which in my opinion, is about the best practice for truly learning a new language (as opposed to just listening and repeating words in a vacuum like you do with Memrise). These audio lessons are included for all courses, including Pimsleur German, Pimsleur French, and Pimsleur Japanese.

More Advanced Language Content

The second advantage in favor of Pimsleur is that I think their lessons, language content and learning framework are better suited for people looking to gain an intermediate to advanced understanding of a new language.

Pimsleur drill
The Pimsleur lessons go deeper than Memrise’s

With Memrise, because their language courses are somewhat basic and simply focus on learning new vocabulary, there’s really no opportunity for spontaneous language usage that mimics or simulates full conversations (which as you now know is an area where Pimsleur excels).

Therefore, I have to hand it to Pimsleur, their lessons are just more robust and better prepare you to speak your target language.

Flexible Lessons

Given the core Pimsleur lessons are audio-based, I like the fact you can complete these lessons while you’re working out, cleaning your house, taking your dog for a walk, etc. It’s just nice you don’t have to be fixed to your computer screen or phone at all times like you do with Memrise.

Pimsleur program
The flexibility of Pimsleur’s program is a major advantage

I think I can speak for most people that when you’re studying, sometimes it’s just nice to switch things up and get a change of scenery to break up the monotony, and the Pimsleur lessons definitely allow for that.

Their mobile app even comes with a special driving mode so you can learn and complete lessons while you’re on the road. Therefore, the flexibility of the Pimsleur lessons definitely deserve two thumbs-up.

➡ Also Worth Reading: Pimsleur vs Rocket Languages



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  • Videos of native speakers make lessons feel more personal and engaging
  • Hundreds of user-generated courses covering unique topics
  • Ability to customize length of learning sessions
  • Lessons are geared more towards visual learners
  • User experience varies by device
  • Not as effective as Pimsleur for conversational practice
  • Lessons are not as comprehensive as Pimsleur's
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Why You Should Choose Memrise Over Pimsleur

Now that you understand what Pimsleur has to offer, let’s cover the areas in which Memrise excels.

Video Clips Of Native Speakers

First up, I really appreciate that Memrise incorporates video clips into their lessons. Apart from SpanishPod101 and Busuu’s language program, you don’t see this that often. With Pimsleur, there are no videos, it’s primarily audio-based.

However, with Memrise, it’s nice you actually get to see locals with your own eyes speak the target language, which just feels a lot more personal.

memrise video
The Memrise videos of native speakers are great

As each person speaks, you can examine their body language and hand gestures, and gauge their inflection when they pronounce particular words and phrases, which in my opinion, is super valuable (similar to LingoPie).

These observations really help you understand the nuances and learn the target language faster. Accordingly, if you’re more of a visual learner, I’d have to give Memrise the edge over Pimsleur.

Unique Courses Designed By Other Users

When you sign-up for Memrise, you get access to hundreds of user-generated courses in addition the company’s main courses. This allows you to go beyond the normal lessons and really delve-into unique topics that may be of interest to you.

memrise user courses
There are literally hundreds of courses to take on Memrise

For example, if you’re learning Japanese, there are courses that cover culturally relevant holidays, Pokémon, Anime, Japanese Buddhism, etc.

Therefore as you might imagine, you’ll likely never run out of content with Memrise. I think it’s awesome that you can find super niche courses that match your specific curiosities, amusements, and passions.

This allows you to essentially construct an entire language program around your individual likes and dislikes to keep you engaged and motivated.

Ability To Customize Lesson Length

Lastly, I appreciate that you can customize the length of lessons and learning sessions with Memrise by adjusting your preferences within the settings tab. For reference, Pimsleur does not give you this option.

Their lessons take around an hour or so to complete from start to finish, which for some people might be an issue.

memrise lesson
We love that Memrise allows you to customize session length

However, with Memrise, because you have more control, you can sort of mold the lessons to your particular schedule (somewhat similar to Duolingo). If you’re generally free and don’t have much going on, you set your words per review session to 50 and quickly make a lot of progress.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have a full-time job or you’re a busy parent and only have a few minutes per day to spare, you can set your words per review session to 10 and really slow things down. It’s commendable that Memrise offers consumers this sort of flexibility.

➡ RELATED: Memrise vs Babbel Comparison

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Pricing & Subscription Options

Let’s start wrapping this comparison up by discussing affordability, starting with Pimsleur. They offer two different subscription options. The first is a Premium Plan, which costs $20 per month and includes access to one language, or for $1 more per month, you can upgrade to the Pimsleur All Access Plan, which includes access to the 50+ languages that Pimsleur covers.

Memrise, on the other hand, does things a little differently. They actually offer a free plan, however, as you might imagine, the free plan is pretty limited.

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. This costs around $23 per month if you go month-to-month. Additionally, you can purchase a lifetime Memrise Pro Plan for around $250.

Comparing pricing, somewhat surprisingly, Pimsleur is actually the cheaper option if you’re on a tight budget. Also, I should add though that Pimsleur does offer a free 7-day trial period, so you can always test out their program before pulling the trigger.

Final Verdict: Memrise vs Pimsleur

Should you choose Memrise or Pimsleur? Well, after thoroughly evaluating each program, I’d have to learn towards Pimsleur as being the winner. I just think Pimsleur offers the more complete and effective language learning programs from top to bottom.

Sure, I like that Memrise incorporates video into their lessons and there’s a ton of cool user-generated courses to choose from, but if you’re truly serious about learning a new language, I think Pimsleur is the better option.

The Pimsleur audio lessons do a much better job of developing your conversational skills, I like how flexible their lessons are, and perhaps most importantly, the Pimsleur courses are just more robust and advanced than those from Memrise. Therefore, after taking all factors into consideration, I think Pimsleur is the way to go.

➡ READ NEXT: Pimsleur vs Babbel Comparison


Is Memrise better than Pimsleur?

After testing the apps/courses from both companies, our team actually thinks Pimsleur is more effective than Memrise for learning a new language. The Pimsleur program is more comprehensive and provides deeper lesson work.

Is Memrise cheaper than Pimsleur?

No, the Memrise courses/plans are actually more expensive than the subscription options from Pimsleur. Moreover, Pimsleur’s packages can often be found on sale.

Do Pimsleur and Memrise offer money back guarantees?

Yes, both Memrise and Pimsleur offer money back guarantees if you’re not satisfied with their language programs. This provides a nice safety net.

What is the difference between Memrise and Pimsleur?

The primary differences between Memrise and Pimsleur boil down to lesson length and format. The lessons from Pimsleur are longer, more in-depth and place a heavy emphasis on simulated conversations. The lessons from Memrise are shorter and geared more towards quick-hit drills and exercises.