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See whether the Memrise app is right for you in this detailed language learning review
Rather than taking the same old approach to language learning, Memrise has changed the game by focusing their program around short video lessons and user-generated courses. Native speakers guide you through your learning with quick video lessons that provide context and memory aids. Plus, with user-generated courses on a range of topics backing up the main lessons from the Memrise pros, you’ll never run out of learning content. But here’s the question: does the Memrise program work? We answer just that question in this detailed and comprehensive review.
Use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate through this article.
Memrise Video Review
In this video, team member John runs down everything you need to know about the Memrise language app. He covers program effectiveness, lesson structure, pricing, and a lot more. For more detail, however, please continue reading.
Memrise Pro Subscription Options & Cost
To set the stage for our review, let’s quickly cover Memrise’s pricing and different subscription options. Memrise covers over 20 languages, and offers two different subscription options: a free plan, and the Memrise Pro plan.
The free plan isn’t a bad option, but does have some limitations which I’ll cover in more detail below. Alternatively, for those that want to upgrade, the Memrise Pro package unlocks all content and features across the Memrise platform.
It costs around $8 per month if you want to pay as you go; $60 if you want to pay up for an entire year in advance (making it $5/month); or $120 for an unlimited, lifetime pass.
Putting things in perspective, Memrise is very affordable. You’re looking at around $5 to $8 per month in total, making it much more affordable than competitors like Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur.
How the Memrise Language Courses are Structured
Regardless of which language you’re learning, Memrise offers several different courses that vary in difficulty. If you’re learning Spanish for example, there are seven different courses (1 through 7), each of which gets more challenging as you progress.
Then within each course, there are “levels” that cover all sorts of different topics, including numbers, food, politics, and everything in between. It’s within these levels where you’ll complete the core lessons and do most of your learning.
However, one of the cool things about Memrise and what differentiates them from other language apps is that in addition to the company-generated courses, there are also user-generated courses that you can complete. There are dozens of these user courses to choose from that range from beginner to advanced, and really dive in to specific, unique topics.
Needless to say, you’ll likely never run out of learning material with Memrise, as there’s an entire ecosystem of user-created courses to work once you’re done with the main lessons.
Finally, the last point I’d like to make is that there is no strict agenda or schedule with Memrise. You can bounce around from course to course, or level to level as you please. This offers some nice flexibility that other apps don’t (such as Duolingo).
What the Memrise Lessons are Like
Now that you know how the Memrise program is structured from a high level, let’s dive into what the lessons themselves are actually like. To start, each lesson typically begins with a series of short videos where locals speaking in their native language introduce you to new words and phrases.
From there, you then complete a variety of exercises and drills that span listening, speaking, reading and writing, to ensure you understand and retain what you just learned. These drills include multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, speed rounds, selecting correct translations, writing sentences, and more.
And the interesting thing here is that you can actually control how long you want each lesson or learning session to be by adjusting your preferences within the settings tab. So whether you want to learn 5 new words per session and keep the lesson short (maybe just 5 minutes), or you want to stretch the lesson out and learn 50 new words per session, you have that ability, which is pretty nice. This is something we haven’t seen with other language learning programs and is a pretty unique feature.
What We Like About Memrise
Now that I’ve covered pricing, subscription options, and what the lessons are all about, let’s get into what our team likes about Memrise after thoroughly testing their app and language course.
Videos of Native Speakers
First of all, I love that Memrise incorporates video into their lessons. This is pretty rare in the language learning space (with the Busuu language program being the exception), and honestly, I’m a huge fan. With most other companies, you typically just get audio lessons, where your computer or phone spits out words and phrases without the visual element.
With Memrise, however, you actually get to see a local speaking your target language. This makes the lessons feel a lot more intimate and personal. You can see their body language, hand gestures, and gauge their inflection when they pronounce certain words.
This is super valuable in my opinion as visuals can really help you learn the language quicker. So overall, I have to give Memrise two big thumbs up for going the extra mile here with these video snippets.
Great Tool for Learning Vocabulary
Memrise is an extremely useful tool for learning and memorizing vocabulary. The Memrise learning framework utilizes a spaced repetition system, which is a classic and proven teaching method used by a handful of other language courses as well.
Essentially, this 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, and it’s your long term memory that allows you to use what you’ve learned in real conversations.
Additionally, one other valuable feature Memrise offers is that they use adaptive tech in the background to personalize your sessions, and readjust your lessons to your level as you learn.
For example, if you’re having trouble with a particular phrase or a specific word, Memrise will prompt you to review those more often until they graduate to your long term memory. In fact, they even offer this cool visual of a flower blooming as a specific phrase starts to stick in your mind. Overall, I just found the repetition system and their adaptive tech to be super effective.
Another unique aspect of the Memrise program that I love is that Memrise gives you access to user-generated courses in addition to their own. This gives you exposure to all sorts of different topics that may be of interest to you.
For example, within Spanish, there are courses that cover Harry Potter, yoga, criminal law, amusement parks, negotiating at car dealerships, and a ton more. As mentioned above, you’ll likely never run out of content with Memrise.
Plus, it’s awesome that you can find super niche courses that match your specific interests, hobbies, and passions. You can essentially build an entire language program around your specific likes and dislikes.
Customize the Length of Lessons
I know I touched on this above, but I really like that you can customize the length of lessons and learning sessions with Memrise. I’ve tested quite a few language programs at this point and Memrise is the first that I’ve seen that gives you this option.
This is great because it means Memrise will likely work for pretty much everyone out there. Whether you have all the time in the world and want to learn 100 new words and phrases per day, or you have a full-time job and can only dedicate a few minutes per day to your language learning journey, it’s just nice that Memrise offers you that sort of flexibility.
Memrise Encourages Users to Engage
I like that Memrise tries to gamify the language learning experience. As you complete lessons, you earn points, which allow you to compare your progress and performance against other Memrise users. In my opinion, being able to check the leaderboard after your learning sessions and see your progress can help keep you motivated and energized.
There’s also an entire statistics section, where you can dig in to your streaks, which days you’re learning the most, and even which times of day you learn the best. It’s a pretty cool data set, and Memrise gives you a ton of detail and insight.
However, beyond all the stats and points, I also appreciate that Memrise really tries to build a community among its users. You can build your own courses, take courses that others have created, follow specific users to track what they’re up to, and create study groups with your friends. The program is really wide-open for you to explore, which is great. I definitely think this helps keep the language learning process fun.
What We Don’t Like About Memrise
Now that all the good stuff is out of the way, let’s turn the tables and talk about the things we don’t like about Memrise.
Free Account is Limited
Although I do appreciate that Memrise offers a free version, there are some limitations. For example, with the free account, you don’t have full access to all program materials and content. You can’t download lessons to learn offline; you don’t get access to all the different video clips and review exercises; there’s no speech recognition tool; and there’s no adaptive tech working in the background to optimize your learning sessions.
For people that are only having a little fun and learning a few phrases to impress their partner’s relatives, this will likely be fine. However, for people that are serious about learning a new language, you’ll likely want to upgrade to the Pro account. Luckily though, as I mentioned earlier, even the Pro account is pretty affordable.
No Real Opportunity for Conversational Practice
Because the Memrise language courses seem so heavily focused on learning new vocabulary, they’re not the best for developing your speaking and conversational skills. True, there is a pronunciation mode where Memrise’s speech recognition technology will grade your pronunciation; however, the reality is that this exercise is just listening to and repeating words and phrases in a vacuum.
In other words, there’s no room for spontaneous language usage that mimics real conversations. So from that perspective, I definitely think there are better options out there to practice your speaking and expand your conversational abilities. Pimsleur and Rocket Languages are the two best in this respect, in my opinion. Their lessons do a really good job of getting you to participate and use the target language under pressure within the context of simulated native conversations.
Not Ideal for Advanced Learners
This negative sort of piggy backs on the last point. Because there’s no real opportunity to advance your conversational skills, I don’t think Memrise is the best choice for advanced learners.
Once you progress past the basic level into the intermediate realm, the next logical step is take what you’ve learned and start putting it into practice by conversing with fluent speakers. With Memrise, however, you really don’t get that chance.
Honestly, it’s for that reason that I think their program and app are best suited for individuals seeking to gain an elementary to intermediate understanding of a new language.
Quality of User-Generated Courses
Although I love that Memrise offers you access to user-generated courses, you do have be careful of the quality of these courses. In my experience, the quality level can vary from course to course.
After all, these courses are created by other users, not the actual Memrise language experts. It’s not the end of the world – I still think the pros definitely outweigh the cons here – but you do have to be a little more cautious to ensure the course you’re completing was created by someone who genuinely knows what they’re doing.
User Experience Varies by Device
Lastly, the Memrise user experience seems to vary by device. Not all content and features are available across desktop and tablet.
Honestly, after using all device types, I can tell you it’s mobile that is going to offer you the best Memrise experience. Thus, if you’re the type of person who prefers your computer over your iPhone or Android, then this is something to keep in mind.
Verdict: Memrise Review
All in all, there’s a lot to like about Memrise. Their Pro plan is affordable; I love that their lessons incorporate videos of native speakers; their spaced repetition framework and adaptive tech are super effective for learning and retaining new vocabulary; the user-generated courses can be extremely useful; I like that you can customize the length of your lessons; and it’s awesome that Memrise really a builds a community among its user-base.
Of course though, like any language learning program out there, there are a handful of negatives as well. Most notably among these, I don’t believe Memrise is the best for developing your conversational skills. By and large, however, Memrise still receives high marks from our team. I think Memrise is an excellent language app for folks who want to achieve a basic to intermediate grasp of a new language with decent fluency.
What is Memrise?
Memrise is an online language learning platform. Users can learn over 20 different languages using a variety of flashcards, videos, lessons, and more.
Is Memrise good?
Although Memrise is not the most robust language learning program we’ve tested, our team still thinks Memrise is an effective tool for learning a new language.
Is Memrise free?
Memrise offers two different subscription options, the first of which is free. The second is a paid subscription (called Memrise Pro) that includes additional features and costs $5-$8 per month.
Is Memrise worth it?
Though we rate a couple of other language learning apps like Babbel and Pimsleur slightly higher, we do think Memrise is worth it. There is a lot to like about Memrise, including the quick-hit lessons and affordable price.