Memrise Language Learning Website Review

Learn a new language for free with Memrise

Student using cell phone to learn a language at Memrise
Sam Edwards / Getty Images

Memrise—a free language learning website—uses its community of users to teach and improve language learning for everyone involved.

It uses audio, images, and memory techniques to help you associate words with one another for easier recall, as well as regular tests to ensure you're remembering the concepts.

In addition to using Memrise through a web browser, they also offer one of our favorite language learning apps.

Languages on Memrise

Screenshot of the courses page on Memrise's website

Visit the Courses page at Memrise, where you can begin learning languages including: English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Japanese, Korean, Icelandic, Slovenian, Arabic, Turkish, German, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Chinese, Russian, and Mongolian.

The Unique Way Memrise Works

Memrise uses what's called elaborate encoding to help you remember different concepts. Instead of having you just read through words and their translations, and trying to memorize them in their raw form, it creates an association between the translation and words you are already familiar with. 

One example Memrise gives for this method is using "it's aburrido to eat a burrito with every meal" to associate the Spanish word aburrido with its English translation of boring. This is great because the sentence makes sense to you as an English speaker, but the Spanish translation is easily placed in it to help you build that connection between the two words.

As you're using Memrise, you can help others learn by submitting your own memory aids and mnemonics that you have. This helps grow the service and keep the material fresh.

Learning a Language With Memrise

Screenshot showing a language learning question in Memrise

Memrise tests you in different ways. For example, you may get a question/answer problem to solve and then a multiple-choice question later on, though they both are testing you on the same concept. This variation keeps the questions unique but also serves as a quick way to ensure you're retaining what you're learning.

Memrise uses what's called spaced repetition to regularly review you. It does so more often in the beginning with easier tests as you're learning new words, and then less often, but with harder tests, as those terms commit to long-term memory. These precisely spaced reviews keep you learning and remembering but without overdoing it.

Getting Started With Memrise

To get started using Memrise, visit the Courses page, select the language you speak, and then choose the language you're wanting to learn. Listed are all the courses you can take in that language, with the number of other users learning it, the average time it will take to finish, and the user who put it together.

As you finish more and more courses and learn new words, you collect points that transition you into different ranks as an incentive to keep moving forward.

Screenshot of the Memrise point system

You're able to log on to Memrise with your email, Facebook, or Google account.

Memrise's Pro Option

Everything you've read about Memrise so far is free. The company offers a Memrise Pro subscription for as inexpensive as $5 per month if paid annually, or if you plan to use it for more than a few years you might be better off getting the lifetime membership.

Included in your subscription are grammabots, pro chats, difficult-words mode, speed review, listening-skills mode, video mode, and learning stats.

Our Thoughts on Memrise

We love the techniques Memrise uses to teach you new language concepts. Using the website and app is visually appealing and seems to work well because of the mnemonic techniques added by users.

One thing we don't like about the website is that it's difficult to follow what you're doing. Thousands of courses span the entire website, and though several popular languages are categorized into common sections like Beginner and Advanced, you must search the site to find other languages, most of which don't offer near the material as the more popular ones.

Also, though there are lots of free resources available, there are some features that require a paid, premium membership. However, this limitation didn't hamper our ability to use the site nor stop us from accessing lots of useful material.