Memrise vs Duolingo: Which Platform Wins?

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Memrise and Duolingo are among the most popular language-learning platforms in the world.

They are both simple, engaging, and effective.

In terms of pricing, they are also very similar.

So, Memrise or Duolingo, which platform should you choose?

Of course, it all comes down to your preferences and learning style.

But in our opinion, one of these platforms is slightly better than the other. Which one is it?

Let’s find out!

Memrise vs Duolingo: Which Platform Wins?

In this Memrise vs Duolingo comparison, we will look at each platform’s main features, structure, and highlights.

After all, every education app is created with a specific learner in mind.

Memrise is ideal for visual learners and people who want to expand their vocabulary.

Memrise language app

And Duolingo is known for its game-like features and iconic look. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, just take a look at Duo the owl.

Although they might seem very similar at first, Duolingo and Memrise have many differences.

Let’s start with their prices and subscription plans.

Pricing and Plans

Duo the owl isn’t the only reason Duolingo became so popular.

Unlike many other platforms, Duolingo offers a free plan. You just need to sign up and start learning.

But there’s also Duolingo Plus. It’s an ad-free version that will provide you with a better user experience.

You’ll have unlimited Hearts (you can lose Hearts by answering incorrectly too many times)

and unlimited test outs (you can complete a skill test to jump to the next level.)

Duolingo Plus subscription costs $7 per month. That’s really not a lot, and you’ll get more flexibility.

It’s a similar case with Memrise.

Memrise offers a free plan too, but it’s kind of limited.

You can upgrade to the Memrise Pro and choose the plan that suits you best.

You can choose from:

  • Monthly subscription for $8.49 per month
  • Annual subscription for $5 per month
  • Lifetime subscription for $119.99 (one-time payment)

Purchasing one of these plans will give you access to all courses, languages, and features.

But what will you actually get with the Memrise subscription?

Structure and Features

In short, Memrise is a flashcard style app designed to teach you a new language in a very simple and effective way.

But is the platform really as effective as it claims?

Memrise app

Well, compared to many other flashcard apps, Memrise has a very good structure and useful features. It’s not only about visual aids – it’s more immersive.

With Memrise, you’ll watch video clips with local people. They are very short and simple, but they will give you a feeling like you’re really there, in the country of the language you’re learning.

Plus, these video clips and visual representations will certainly help you learn the language quicker.

The thing is, it’s hard to memorize words only if you see them translated on the screen. But if you connect the word with what a person is doing, you’ll instantly have a better understanding of its meaning.

Some languages also have a pronunciation feature. Pronunciation mode becomes available after you’ve learned at least three words in that course.

Also, Memrise utilizes spaced repetition system. It’s a popular memory technique that is usually performed with flashcards. The technique requires you to recall information at specific time intervals. That way, the information will move to your long-term memory.

Moreover, Memrise uses adaptive tech to personalize your lessons.

In other words, the app will provide you with curated content that fits your level and learning habits. For example, if you’re having trouble with something, Memrise will force you to review it until you learn it.

Memrise lessons

Memrise also offers user-generated content. In fact, Memrise used to offer community-created courses, but they seem to have been removed from the “Search” function within the Memrise mobile app.

The courses themselves have not been removed or deleted, but Memrise now focuses exclusively on official courses created by their team of linguists, translators, and language researchers.

Nevertheless, you can find plenty of content focused on specific topics and skills.

Duolingo, on the other hand, is very straightforward. It will provide you with short, linear lessons. And you go up a level every time you earn a certain amount of experience points.

Each lesson is only about 5 to 10 minutes long. There are also fill-in-the-blanks, matching pairs, listening drills, and so on.

In many ways, using Duolingo feels like playing a game. You’ll get badges, XPs, Hearts, and so on.

Duolingo lessons

Plus, the app is full of animations, graphics, and visual aids.

And Duo the owl will keep your motivation high.

On the other note, there are some concerns about Duolingo’s crowd-sourced translation model. Apparently, while you’re doing their fill-in-the-blank exercises, you’re actually submitting translations and they’re partnering with other companies and selling them.

Duolingo outsourced its translation services for years, and according to some online sources, that’s why there are so many awkward sentences in there.

But despite all of these drawbacks, Duolingo has grown and evolved over the years.

There are many different Duolingo sections now. There’s a Duolingo podcast, an active and fresh-looking Duolingo blog, and useful Duolingo Stories.

You can also attend live events and get in touch with fellow learners.

Duolingo’s community is definitely one of its strengths. The platform has loyal users and an active online community. And you always count on Duolingo’s comments on recent events on social media.

Overall, it seems like Duolingo has a reputation for being a simple, gamified app. And that’s very true, but the platform also expanded over the years and now it offers versatile, engaging content that will enrich your learning experience.

But what happens when you complete Duolingo? How much will you actually know?

Levels and topics

Let’s be clear: you won’t become fluent with Duolingo.

But you also won’t become fluent with Memrise or any other language app for that matter.

Apps and online courses can be a fantastic learning source, but you also need to do the extra work. You need to practice regularly, talk to native speakers (if you can), and immerse yourself in the language by watching movies, reading books, and so on.

In other words, language apps like Duolingo and Memrise will guide you through the learning process and provide you with useful tools, but you can’t expect to reach proficiency levels just like that.

Memrise vs Duolingo

When it comes to different levels, Duolingo is actually based on completing levels. It has a very clear, linear curriculum (if you can call it a curriculum.)

Either way, things do get more complicated and advanced over time. Just not too advanced.

At some point, Duolingo introduced Crown Levels. Crown Levels give you tougher exercises at higher levels.

So, now each skill begins at the introduction level (level 0) and when you complete all the bite-sized lessons, the skill is leveled-up and the next row of skills is unlocked. And when you complete a level, you gain a crown.

Nonetheless, the point of the leveling-up system is to allow learners to see more challenging content without forcing them to go through it.

Memrise, on the other hand, will offer you the possibility to choose a place to start.

And on Memrise, course levels are just a grouping of topics in a course.

The Memrise app covers thousands of words, and when you complete the course, you’re expected to be an independent speaker. But we don’t think that’s entirely true.

Yes, Memrise will teach you a ton of words. You’ll also learn how to pronounce them, and you’ll learn basic grammar concepts. But you won’t build strong conversational skills.

On the other hand, you’ll learn practical vocabulary useful for traveling and everyday situations.

Memrise topics

Duolingo strives to do the same, but it doesn’t always succeed. With Duolingo, sometimes you’ll come across words and phrases you’ll probably never going to use in real life (unless you want to drink whiskey with the Loch Ness monster.)

Duolingo describes that as a quirky sense of humor and lighthearted learning. So, despite the popular opinion, Duolingo seems to do that on purpose. Well, weird sentences can really be memorable, that’s for sure.

Either way, learning such sentences can sometimes feel discouraging. In our opinion, it’s better to stick to context and real-world conversations.

What about design?

If you care about what a certain app looks like, you’ll enjoy using Memrise.

The Memrise app looks great. It’s neat, visually pleasing, and engaging.

And short video clips featuring the locals are a great touch.

Duolingo is no less engaging. The app’s design (and Duo the owl) became iconic, at least compared to other language platforms.

But the Duolingo app will also provide you with clarity. Although it’s colorful and full of animations, it’s minimalistic enough to keep you focused on what really matters.

Benefits

Did you know that Duolingo is the most downloaded education app in the world?

And it’s just because it’s free. Although that’s probably one of the main reasons.

Nevertheless, Duolingo is a great learning resource because it’s simple and straightforward. You will learn something new every day and make progress without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

And you can learn on the go – while you’re commuting or traveling, for example.

Also, Duolingo currently teaches 19 languages. It also offers some fictional languages. So, if you want to learn Klingon or High Valyrian, Duolingo is for you.

High Valyrian on Duolingo

But you should also give it a try if you’re a learner who needs motivation. Since Duolingo is set up like a game, you will feel motivated and hungry to learn more.

Without a doubt, their reward system will keep you going.

You can also set your weekly goals. That will help you to feel more productive and accomplished.

All things considered, Duolingo will provide you with structure and motivation.

But Memrise also has many advantages. Perhaps even more than Duolingo.

For starters, it’s very useful for memorizing vocabulary. It uses spaced repetition system and helpful study tools.

But Memrise is also better at using natural language than Duolingo. You’ll learn how to communicate in a clear way. And the app will prepare you for real-life situations.

It will also introduce you to basic grammar.

Does Memrise teach you grammar?

With Memrise, you can browse lessons and focus on the skill or topic you’re interested in. Unlike Duolingo, Memrise contains user-generated courses. It doesn’t work that way anymore, but you can still access the courses.

And last but not least, you can customize the length of your lessons to match your schedule. That way, you can be consistent. And if you want to learn a new language, consistency is the key.

And along with the app’s adaptive tech, you’ll really be able to achieve your goals and gain language skills in a quick and effective way.

And what do user reviews say?

What Do Users Say?

Well, people generally enjoy using Duolingo. They find it convenient, fun, and easy to use.

However, many users made a complaint about incorrect translations and unnatural sentences.

And people made similar complaints about Memrise. Some Trustpilot reviews are focused on their bad translations and bugs.

Some users also complained about their customer service.

Otherwise, people are satisfied with Memrise. They like the fact that they can use it for free, and that there’s a ton of content.

It’s pretty clear that neither Duolingo nor Memrise are perfect. But if you don’t have unrealistic expectations, both platforms can be a great language learning tool.

Final Verdict

So, Memrise vs Duolingo, which platform is better?

Well, we need to give an edge to Memrise this time.

Memrise is simply more complete and versatile than Duolingo. The app’s video clips make it more engaging, and you can customize lessons to your liking.

Plus, thanks to Memrise’s user-generated courses, you can focus on your specific interests and goals. There are plenty of good lessons to choose from.

Duolingo is obviously very popular, and it’s a cool app for casual learners who need motivation and a linear learning process.

But Memrise will also guide you through the whole process and help you incorporate language learning into your daily routine.

However, the Memrise app works best if you use it as an additional study tool. The app will teach you a lot, but you won’t actively work on your conversational skills. And feeling comfortable speaking to another person should be one of the goals, right?

Either way, Memrise is more than just a flashcard app. But it’s not the best option out there.

But if you use it alongside another language program, that will definitely bring you closer to fluency!