Have you ever heard the phrase “use it or lose it?” This applies to most skills that we learn throughout our lives, but it also applies to new information. With this in mind, Memrise is a user generated online community that uses flashcards to help you learn vocabulary, languages, history, science, trivia, and “just about anything else.” The company claims to utilize a variety of flashcard-based multimedia tools to help make the learning process as fun and effortless as possible—because after all, the more excited you are about learning, the better you’ll remember the information. Memrise also likens your memory to a garden: first, you need to learn the information and help it grow, and then turn it into a long-term memory by periodically refreshing it.
But does Memrise really make the learning process as easy and fun as they claim? Let’s plant a seed of knowledge and see what grows.
Quick Facts About Memrise
Similar to Quizlet, Memrise features thousands of flashcard-based courses that are created by other users, which they claim can help make you smarter, more curious, and more individualized. To accomplish this, Memrise claims to use cognitive science-based learning techniques and an intimate knowledge of how the brain works to help you learn faster. In addition, the website features unique algorithms that are intended to reintroduce what you’ve learned at just the right time so you don’t forget it. Ultimately, this helps connect new information to what you already know, which is a process known as “encoding.”
Unlike Quizlet however, Memrise’s namesake is based on the use of Mems, which are “little snippets of imagination and humor that make things easy to remember.” In other words, these Mems act as pneumonic devices that can help you better retain information.
With this in mind, Memrise offers courses in the following categories:
- Languages – Chinese, French, Italian, etc.
- Arts & Literature – Music, fine art, movies, and more.
- Math & Science – Psychology, biology, chemistry, and more.
- The Natural World – Plants and animals, outer space, geology, etc.
- History & Geography – Maps, cities,
- Professional & Careers – Driver’s license tests, computer software, digital literacy, and more.
- Entertainment – Popular games and characters such as Pokemon, blackjack, scrabble, and more.
- Trivia – Subjects dealing with everything from geography and history, to popular TV shows and sports.
After clicking on a module you’d like to study, you’ll see that it ‘s divided into two sections: Ready to Plant, which means that you haven’t yet studied the material, and Ready to Water, which will become available after you’ve studied and need to reinforce the information at a later date.
After beginning a module, you’ll be taken through the topic and will accumulate points for each question you answer correctly. Also, if you need help remembering something, you can click on the “Help me remember this” button, which will then display a Mem. For example, if you need help remembering what Italy looks like, the Mem might be something like, “Italy is shaped like a boot!” You’ll also be able to choose between different Mems for one that works best for you.
As you learn, you’ll earn points and badges, which will allow you to compete with other users. You’ll be re-tested on much of the information at a later date (e.g. helping your “garden” thrive), and the longer you remember something, the more points you’ll earn.
In addition to their website, Memrise also offers iDevice and Google apps available for download.
Memrise Pricing & Refund Policy
Memrise is completely free to sign up for, and you can either log in with your Facebook information, or manually create a username and password.
As of the time of this writing, Memrise Premium (e.g. a paid service) was pending release, although no prices were listed.
What Do Other Consumers Have to Say About Memrise?
Memrise is based out of London, England, and was founded by Ed Cooke, “Grand Master of Memory” in 2009. Since that time, the company has been featured in Wired, the Guardian, TechCrunch, and more. Although the company was founded more than five years ago, it appears that they just exited the beta stage in early 2013.
As far as user feedback, we’ll take a look at some common complaints regarding Memrise in the next section.
What’s the Bottom Line About Memrise?
Based on our research, it appears that Memrise can be a beneficial source for learning new subjects, especially considering the fact that it’s completely free of charge. However, this doesn’t mean that Memrise is without its downfalls.
First, we found that Memrise is simple to use, with a straightforward interface to find modules, and to help learn the information contained in them. In fact, we found that it’s easier to get started, locate a topic, and begin learning than similar sites like Quizlet. In addition, even though Memrise’s modules are community driven, they have a reputation for being very high quality, which was our experience as well. Also, the points and badges you earn after completing a module, and the ability to compete with other users, can be great motivational tools.
However, in our experience, many of the Memrise modules are very repetitive, which might actually create boredom, and could detract from the overall learning experience. As it turns out though, there’s a name for this: spaced repetition-based learning, which has been shown to be effective.
On top of this, Memrise seems to be known primarily for its language modules, although their reputation appears to be growing in other areas as well. With this said, language modules appear to be focused on learning single words, and not full sentences or phrases. We also read several reviews claiming that Memrise can become buggy at times, such as listing more than one correct answer for a question. Also, we read more than one user review claiming that developers don’t reply to problems posted on the Memrise message board, which might be frustrating if you’re looking to have a problem solved.
What’s your experience with Memrise? Tell us about it by writing a review today!
1 out 4 people found this review helpful
You can learn some words, but you won't learn Russian.
I'm fairly fluent in Russian but I got stuck in a mall in a huge rainstorm so I installed Memrise and took their Russian I course. Doesn't look like they have anything beyond this.
First few levels were extremely annoying as they showed you all the words transliterated into the Latin alphabet (which is OK for beginners I guess) but then insisted on testing you over and over again by making YOU type out the words in the Latin alphabet (why?) which was even more annoying when their transliteration was misleading.
For example, although Russian is about 99% phonetic, there are two conventions where it is not. "OGO" ending is really pronounced "OVO" and any "O" that is not in an accented syllable is pronounced "A". So "новогo" if transliterated letter for letter would be "Novogo" but it's pronounced "NOvava." They show you the phonetic pronunciation ("novava") they say "novava" and then they make you type "novogo" over and over again which achieves nothing except to confuse the crap out of anybody who doesn't know Russian.
I jumped ahead a couple levels and they stopped making you type in Latin (thank God) but there is only "beginning Russian" available which is pretty much just vocabulary. The hard part of Russian is not the alphabet (almost completely phonetic and easy to learn) or the vocabulary. It's the case endings. Now if there were a real "memory" course that could teach you the case endings, it would be worth its weight in gold.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend