Memrise Pro has been upping their game over the past year or so. We’ve seen 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 Pro 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?
Memrise Pro: what is it?
Memrise is a flashcard website that’s popular for 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, though you’ll find that stuff on Memrise’s newer, secondary site, Decks.
Decks is exactly the same as Memrise, except Memrise itself doesn’t touch the content on it. It’s their way to separate their official native (and decently high-quality) content from their users who use the platform as a study aid.
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:
20 languages is not bad at all! The next question, and arguably the more important one: what exactly does Memrise Pro 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”. To be fair, the question itself was pretty good quality; instead of a robotic voice saying the words, you can hear and see and actual human pronouncing it (the ‘live’ face does make a difference!).
The point, though, is that this is not an advanced word. Color me disappointed. Why ask me if I’m at an advanced level if you’re not going to show me advanced content?
Side note: the next word was ‘aburrido’ (bored), and it was kind of amusing that that was the word they were showing me when I was bored.
Memrise review: quality of content
Okay, so you’re only going to get beginner stuff on Memrise. That’s cool, I mean there are definitely language learners who don’t want to go any farther than that. So how is this beginner content?
Well, it’s not bad. You’ll get a few words or phrases at a time, and they’ll drill you on them. You’ll get a couple of different drilling methods, and they’ll keep track of how well or poorly you’re performing on these different words/phrases. In the end, it’s kind of like SRS, but I still maintain Anki is the best at SRS.
First, they’ll start with 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 (but interesting) drills.
PS. Memrise does not offer their grammar lessons on desktop so I had to switch the mobile. Also I switched to French because I was so bored with the Spanish content!
There are a couple things that I really like about how Memrise approaches these lessons. 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 mnemonic devices.
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 review: accountability
Another helpful detail that Memrise offers is its reminders to study. Although it’s….kind of passive (unlike the overzealous Duolingo owl that pops up on your phone every day), it does exist.
I’ve never had a notification or an email reminding me to keep up my Memrise streak, which is a big deal, especially if they’re trying to do the whole “algorithm” thing. So you may have to do some finagling if you need reminders.
However, Memrise does have a daily goal/streak function. You can tell Memrise what your daily goal is for each individual list, and it’ll tell you how many days in a row you’ve studied.
You can also just opt in to study your “difficult words”, which are the terms that you may have gotten wrong once or twice, or they may be words that you genuinely have a hard time with.
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 are only available to Memrise Pro users. The video clips of native speakers, for example, is 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 Pro 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.
This information is probably most helpful for brand new language learners still trying to figure out their journey for themselves. 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!