Memrise is a flashcard platform for language learners (plus a variety of other subjects). They’ve been upping their game over the past year or so, too: a completely new website, new native content, and some extra features popping up on what used to be just your average online flashcard resource.
So how can Memrise help you, a language learner? Is it a resource that’s worth your consideration? What will you get, and what do you have to put into it? This Memrise review will help you decide.
Memrise Pro: what is it?
Memrise is a flashcard website that’s popular with lots of independent language learners out there. It’s pretty nice to look at, comes with its own app, and has both free and paid versions.
There’s close to unlimited content on it, too; some of it was created by the folks at Memrise themselves, and some of it’s from the users of Memrise. This means Memrise’s content is effectively unlimited.
I always say to take user-generated content with a grain of salt, because you don’t know if you’re actually learning the right stuff. It can definitely be helpful, though, since Memrise’s own content might not quite do it for you (more on that in a sec).
Okay, so Memrise courses are the official content created by the Memrise team. There are plenty of options when it comes to Memrise courses, especially for the more well-known languages. I went looking for Afrikaans help, and Memrise itself doesn’t have any. That isn’t a make-or-break thing, since Afrikaans is not a popular language to learn, but I was personally disappointed just a smidgen.
That isn’t to say you can only learn the most common romance languages, though. Memrise courses are available in the following languages:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
20 languages is not bad at all! The next question, and arguably the more important one: what exactly does Memrise offer in all these 20 languages?
Memrise review: is experience important?
To start my own Memrise review, I decided to start with Spanish. I’ve found that this is a pretty good way to gauge how much of a challenge different resources will put you to, especially when this was the first thing Memrise showed me when I signed up.
As a language learner, the impression I get when this is the first screen is that your level in that language is important (ie. they cover more than just beginner content, so they ask you if you’re more experienced so you don’t waste your time). The same thing happened when I reviewed Mondly for Spanish and Afrikaans.
And, unfortunately, just like with Mondly, this assumption left me completely disappointed. This is the first lesson Memrise Pro gave me after telling them I was an advanced Spanish learner.
This was a video of a Spanish man saying “emocionante”. In fact, all of Memrise’s content starts out with a video of everyday Spanish speakers saying the word or phrase. This feels a lot more intimate than a robot voice or someone in front of a white screen, so I’m a fan!
While I wouldn’t consider this word advanced (more intermediate), I’m glad that Memrise didn’t ask me what my level was and then throw me into beginner stuff anyways. You might have to do some searching to find the right content for your level (there’s no assessment or anything like that) but it is there.
Memrise review: the Memrise process
Now that we know what Memrise can teach us, how do they go about teaching it? With a touch of SRS, a smattering of repetition, and a bucket of gamification.
Memrise follows the metaphor of a plant: first, you plant the seeds (see the word/phrase for the first time), and then you water those seeds (review the word/phrase) a bunch of times in a few different ways until you have yourself a plant (and have learned the word/phrase). Check the icon in the upper right-hand corner to see how far you are in the word/phrase.
First, they’ll start by showing you the word/phrase. If you’re a Memrise Pro user, this involves that video that I was talking about. After it gives you a couple more, it’ll throw it all together and give you a few multiple-choice & fill-in-the-blank drills.
There are a couple of things that I really like about how Memrise approaches these lessons. The first is that they show you the literal translation of what you’re learning. This is something that I do a lot when I’m learning something new because it helps me understand it in the way that I understand language. Kudos, Memrise!
Second: in that bottom-left lesson, there are no capital letters to denote the beginning of the sentence! I love this because I find myself cheating a lot with these kinds of things by looking for the capital letters to start a sentence. This way, you actually have to figure it out.
It’s the little things, right?
Memrise review: mems
There’s one more aspect of Memrise that is (as far as I know) unique to them. They call it “mems”, and it’s a way to help you remember new words if you just can’t seem to get it. You may refer to this strategy as a mnemonic device.
A lot of you may already be familiar with this, but since Memrise seems to be geared towards beginners, good for them for informing their users about this strategy! Many words and phrases have these “mems” already submitted by other users, but you can make up your own if you want.
Memrise’s TikTok function: Immerse
If you spend a lot of time on TikTok (guilty!), then you’ll probably like Memrise’s new Immerse section! I can’t say for sure which languages this is available in just yet, but it’s real fun.
Literally, tap on the button on the bottom right, and find short, fun little TikTok-esque clips meant to entertain and up your listening and reading comprehension. As you can see from the videos below, you can have the subtitles in either English or the language you’re studying.
Super fun, amiright?! I love this totally low-key, low-effort practice. All these videos I’ve seen are really relatable and very enjoyable to watch. There’s no easy way to save words for later, or get more in-depth lessons on anything said, but who knows what Memrise will do with this as time goes on?
Memrise review: accountability
Another helpful detail that Memrise offers is its reminders to study. If you go into the settings of your account, you can turn on notifications for your device, as well as stipulate when you get those notifications – certain days of the week, a specific time, etc.
This is a fairly new addition to the app, so it’s nice to see language learning apps growing with the times and giving us more tools to keep us moving forward.
Speaking of accountability tools, Memrise also features (much like Duolingo) a daily goal/streak function, based on the daily goal you set for each individual course you’re learning.
You can also just opt in to study your “difficult words”, which are the terms that you seem to be having a more difficult time with (considering you’ve gotten them wrong). It’s not self-reporting so if your finger slips you may have “el sofá” in your list, but it’s one step closer to an Anki-level of SRS.
Memrise Pro statistics
If you choose to go the paid Memrise Pro route, you’ll have access to some statistics on how you’re learning, which may be helpful to you.
For some language learners, this might be super motivating. I know it can be hard to realize how much you’re learning, so being able to see it in a graph like this is awesome (ignore the fact that there’s nothing on this particular graph!).
If that’s not helpful for you, Memrise Pro does dive in a little deeper when it comes to your learning statistics. Seriously, for those analytical minds out there, this could get pretty exciting. Take a look!
This is a super interesting take on language learning that nobody else does, only available to Memrise Pro users.
Memrise Pro review: what you get
On the topic of these statistics, let’s talk about the difference between Memrise free and Memrise Pro. Is Memrise free? Well, certain parts are, and they might just be enough for you.
A lot of the things I’ve been talking about so far are only available to Memrise Pro users. The video clips of native speakers, for example, are only on Memrise Pro. Just like those statistics, as well as the Difficult Words section (that SRS bit I was talking about).
It’s not like Memrise Pro is unreasonably priced, either! $9 per month is pretty cheap, especially compared to some of our other language learning options.
Memrise review: who it’s for
At the end of the day, I think Memrise Pro is doing a pretty okay job. They’re targeting a similar audience to Duolingo: language learners who want to dabble in a few languages but don’t feel particularly inclined to dive deeper into more intermediate grammar or vocab.
The thing that sets Memrise Pro apart from everybody else is definitely the analytics of your study habits. What you’re studying, how often you’re studying, when you’re studying it, and how successful you are at studying it. You may be surprised to find what your patterns look like, and you may also find this information helpful for creating new, more productive patterns, too!
If you don’t want to (or can’t) pay for Pro, Memrise can still be hugely helpful for creating your own flashcards in a more engaging way, even without all the bells and whistles. In that case, you may also consider Quizlet!