Memrise’s website carries the slogan “We make learning languages and vocab so full of joy and life, you’ll laugh out loud.”. Certainly a different claim to other learning software. Memrise does not just focus on helping learners with languages but has over 300,000 courses.
Memrise offers its courses as a smartphone app and as a web based desktop platform. Their products come as freeware and also as a premium version priced at US$9/month or US$59/year. Currently, the courses are available for learning English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese and Russian.
I choose the Russian smartphone app to review Memrise.
So what did I think of Memrise?
The basic Russian course contained 16 lessons covering the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, verbs and theme vocabulary. The app introduces each new letter, word or expression with an image (some of which are quite funny) and a native speaker pronounces it. The learner then has to recognize and select the new term from a group of possible answers.
Another task involves spelling out a translation into Russian. The course also has a gamification element with points being gained depending on your performance.
Bond! James Bond! Who doesn’t like to say that with a Russian accent?
A colorful example of a Memrise mnemonic
- Motivation – I found Memrise motivating to use and I felt that I was learning and noticing new words and grammatical structures. The mnemonics were often amusing which helped with keeping my interest and focus.
- Time utilization – Memrise is a great way to spend a few minutes playing on your phone when you are bored or have to wait around for a friend. I am believer that everybody has enough time to learn a language; some just don’t utilize their free time effectively.
- Mnemonics – I found a lot of the images attention grabbing and vivid – exactly what is needed to aid the memory (although personalized images work even better).
- Intuitive – I was surprised how logical the progression was with the course. The content was accumulative and I found myself picking up grammar structures directly from the course’s material implicitly
- Low amount of vocabulary – the course is ultimately not that long so the amount of vocabulary is limited but on the other hand, it is repeated so I felt that I retained most of the new information.
- Inadequate cultural information – There isn’t much of it in the Russian course.
- Voice recognition – not provided so no analysis of your pronunciation.
Memrise’s image for the Russian letter “щ”
So would I recommend using Memrise?
The Memrise app exceeded my expectations so I can recommend it as a secondary learning aid. It is great to use when you some spare time, like while on a commute, as you will certainly learn something in the target language. I found it fun to use and it definitely helped me to learn some new things in Russian.