With the rise in people wanting to learn a different language, there has also been a rise in language learning apps.
Memrise is one of these apps. Boasting a wide array of lessons right at a person's fingertips. As well as offering synchronisation across devices, Memrise is a popular option when it comes to learning a new language.
Memrise; What Is It All About?
Memrise was created by Ed Cooke and Greg Detre. Cooke has the title of 'Grand Memory Master' while Detre is a Neuroscientist at Princeton, and specialises in memory and forgetting. Arguably a perfect duo when creating a tool to help others learn!
The pair got together and worked hard to release Memrise, their language learning app, back in 2013.
They have designed the app to utilize a learning technique called spaced repetition, which works by teaching information and then repeating it after an interval of time has passed. Older information is repeated less frequently, and newer information more so.
This helps the brain commit the information to its long-term memory stores, and is often used when a person needs to remember something permanently. Making it a great method to use when learning languages.
Memrise offers 23 different languages, covering some of the most popular options like; German, English, French and Spanish. While also covering languages which are niche, such as; Mongolian, Icelandic or Arabic!
The app is available through the Apple Store, Google Play and even web browsers. Perfect for allowing people to learn anytime and anywhere.
The Features Of The App
The Memrise app offers a wide array of features to help individuals learn their language of choice.
Video and Audio Of Natives Speaking
One of the great features of Memrise is that it uses videos of native speakers when teaching its users a new language. Often apps will have audio, but by including visual elements to the lesson, it creates a much more engaging activity.
Writing/Typing Out The Words And Phrases Spoken
Combined with the visual and auditory activities, Memrise also includes tasks where the user is expected to type out one of two things;
- What they can hear
- The translation of what was said
This allows users to combine their senses when learning, which can increase a person's ability to retain knowledge. And allows the app to cater to different learning styles in an efficient manner.
Speaking Practice, So People Can Practice Their Pronunciation
Another incredible feature of this app is the 'pronunciation' activity. This activity gives the user a word, which they then record themselves saying out loud. The app will then rate the pronunciation, letting the user know if they got it right, or if they need a bit more refinement.
This is a great feature, as it gives people the opportunity to practice speaking their chosen language, and receive feedback. Even if they do not have a fluent or native person to converse with.
'Speed Reviews' To Test What People Have Learned
The app's speed review feature is essentially a timed 'test'. Users are given a series of questions on what they have learned, and have to correctly answer the question under timed conditions.
Users are given three strikes. If they answer three questions incorrectly the test ends, and these words or phrases are added to their 'difficult words' list for further practice later on.
This is a really great aspect of the app as it allows people to quickly practice what they know, and identify what they need to work on. The 'speed review' feature also allows people to choose from 10 questions, all the way up to 150. Allowing users to set a customised review session which works for them.
Setting Customisable Goals To Motivate Individuals
While this may not seem like the biggest of features, it is certainly a helpful one when it comes to finding the motivation to learn.
Memrise offers its users customisable goals which can be as small as 5 words per day, or as large as 30 a day!
This allows the apps users to decide what fits in with their schedule, and work accordingly. Without getting disheartened that they cannot meet their goals, or feeling bored because it is too easy.
Notification Reminders To Ensure Regular Practice
Tying in with the customisable goals, Memrise also allows users to set reminders during the day. This will send them a small push notification to let them know it is time to practice.
These reminders can be set for any point during the day, letting users decide the perfect time for their practice. Whether it is with their morning coffee, or 10 minutes before bed.
'Explore' Option, Allowing People To Photograph Their Own Objects And The App Will Translate
An interesting feature with Memrise is it's 'Explore' function. This allows people to use the app and take a photo of an item. The app will then translate it into the specified language.
The feature is a little bit rough around the edges, and does seem to struggle with some objects. But overall, it is a very helpful feature to be included!
It allows users to learn what items are called in a much more personalised way.
'Difficult Words' Put Into One Group, Allowing People To Practice Just Their Weakest Vocabulary And Grammar
When going through the lessons on Memrise, the app makes a note of any words a person appears to have more difficulty with, and keeps them in a group together.
Users are then able to go to this 'Difficult Words' section and focus on the words which have caused them problems. Allowing them to improve the areas they need the most help with, without constantly repeating knowledge they already know.
All of these features allow for an incredibly user-friendly, interactive and engaging method for learning new languages.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Learning Language With Memrise
As with any app, Memrise has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to learning a new language.
One of the biggest disadvantages is the amount of course content available to free members. Memrise only offers a small taster of the courses until a paid membership is started, which differs greatly to other apps which offer full course content in their free and paid for versions (e.g. Duolingo).
It is also important to note that Memrise focuses primarily on teaching its users vocabulary, and puts little emphasis on learning the language's grammar as well. Therefore, users may need to look elsewhere to learn how to use the vocabulary which Memrise is teaching them.
Another aspect of the app which is both an advantage, but also a disadvantage, is the user-generated content. Memrise allows people to generate their own content within the app, and this can be incredibly beneficial when learning. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any moderation or quality control on this content.
But Memrise also has many benefits and advantages. Cooke and Detre have created an incredibly interactive way of learning with Memrise. The variety of activities from listening to speaking to writing, help keep users learn in a fun and engaging way.
And by having many of the learning tools available in both membership types, this interactivity can be experienced by anyone wishing to give language learning a try!
The Cost Of Learning With Memrise
Unlike some apps, Memrise allows you to create a profile without paying or signing up for a trial period.
Memrise also allows users access to nearly all of its tools through the free version of the app. However, if people wish to access the app's full content, including 30,000 clips of native speakers and the ability to download the lessons, they will need to purchase the full app.
As of May 2021, the app offers 3 payment options;
- Monthly: £8.99
- Annual: £69.99
- Lifetime: £139.99
The monthly and annual options are on a rolling plan, while the lifetime option is a one-time payment. All three options give you complete access to everything this app has to offer.
How Do Other Language Learning Apps Compare?
Memrise is just one of many language learning apps available online and in the app stores, but how do others compare?
Duolingo: One of the biggest advantages of Duolingo over Memrise, is that it allows users full access to the language courses. Even if they use the free version of the app.
Aside from removing adverts, gaining 'unlimited lives' and being able to download lessons, everything a person needs is available. And if a person wanted to try their premium version, Duolingo offers a free trial before charging its users.
Busuu: Busuu is another app which offers limited access to free users, but it does offer more detailed context behind each word and phrase as it is taught. As well as giving users a quiz to test what level they are already at.
It also has a community feature, which allows users to help other people on the app and receive help in return.
Similarly to Duolingo, Busuu also allows people to try a free 7-day trial period of their premium membership, something which Memrise doesn't offer.
Babbel: Similarly to Busuu and Memrise, Babbel also offers limited access to its course content without a paid membership.
One feature which is unique to Babbel, is that some of their language courses offer audio lessons such as podcasts. These come from native speakers and are a great for people to increase their understanding of a language in action.
Overall, Memrise is a practical app which makes learning fun and engaging by utilising different aspects of learning.
While a premium account may be necessary to gain access to the full content each language has to offer, it is less expensive than other apps per month. Especially when they occasionally offer discounts on their annual subscriptions.
As far as language learning apps go, Memrise definitely has the potential to help many people on their journeys. However, users will likely still need practice outside of the app in order to truly master the language they are learning.