Memrise Review

Learn a new language for free with Memrise

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

Memrise is a free language learning website that 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 have one of our favorite language learning apps available for download.

Languages You Can Learn at Memrise

Screenshot of the courses page on Memrise's website

Visit the Courses page at Memrise, where you can begin learning languages such as the following:

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

There are different ways Memrise tests you. 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 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 they're committed to long term memory. These automatically 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 completely free. They do offer a Memrise Pro subscription for as inexpensive as $2.50 /month, 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 actually seems to work well due to 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. There are thousands of courses added on a daily basis that 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 didn't hamper our ability to use the site nor stop us from accessing lots of useful material.