Whether you’re curious about a new language or want to improve your proficiency, language-learning apps allow you to study at your own pace. The vast majority of options are designed to help you improve your vocabulary, reading, writing, and speaking skills.
Despite these similarities, each app comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. If you don’t know which to pick, this in-depth comparison between Memrise and Duolingo might help you figure out which is the best app for you.
Let’s get into it!
Memrise vs. Duolingo: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Best for…||People who want to improve their pronunciation in a target language||People who are curious about learning a new language|
|Year of Release||2013||2012|
|Basic Version Cost||Free||Free|
|Premium Version Cost||Around $8 to $15 per month or $200 for lifetime membership||Around $7 to $30 per month|
|Number of Languages||22||45|
|Availability||Web, Android, iOS||Web, iOS, Android, Windows (phones and Windows 8 and 10 devices), Google Glass, Android Wear|
|Lesson Types||Interactive vocabulary and grammar lessons, videos, AI-powered chats and missions||Interactive vocabulary and grammar lessons, voice recording, speech recognition|
|Practice Time||Around 10 minutes per day||5-20 minutes per day|
Memrise vs. Duolingo: What’s the Difference?
In recent years, language-learning apps have become increasingly popular. There are lots of options out there, but two that stand out are Memrise and Duolingo.
Memrise is a British language platform founded by Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory, Greg Detre, a neuroscientist specialized in the science of memory and forgetting, and Ben Whately, an investor and advisor in high-growth tech startups.
The trio launched the first private beta website in 2009, but the actual app didn’t become available to the masses until 2013. This language learning platform uses the technique of spaced repetition of flashcards to help students memorize the various words and language structures.
Recently, the company partnered with OpenAI and introduced an AI language partner powered by ChatGPT-3. This feature is designed to allow students to practice human-like conversation, although it is uncertain how much it can help you overcome the confidence gap.
Duolingo is an American educational technology company founded in 2011 by Luis von Ahn, a consulting professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, and Severin Hacker, one of Ahn’s post-graduate students.
The duo used the same spaced repetition of flashcards in the development of Duolingo, so this app is very similar to Memrise. The first idea was initiated in 2009, and the app was made available to the masses in 2012.
Today, Duolingo also partners with OpenAI and offers an AI language partner powered by ChatGPT-4. Despite these similarities, there are numerous differences between these platforms.
Let’s break down everything you need to know so that you can decide which app to give a try.
The first difference between Memrise and Duolingo is availability. While users around the world can download and use both apps, the Memrise platform is limited to a web version as well as an Android and an iOS app.
Duolingo is also available for Android, iOS, and the web, but the app is also compatible with Windows systems. You can download it on Windows phones or use the desktop version available for Windows 8 or later.
If you want to use your commute or workout time to learn new words or phrases in your target language, you can also install Duolingo on Android wearables or on Google Glass. Memrise isn’t compatible with these operating systems.
Languages and Lesson Types
Memrise and Duolingo use the same spaced repetition technique to help learners memorize various words and phrases. However, each app uses a different strategy.
Memrise’s Learn category is divided into learning and practice. In the Learn subcategory, the app shows a series of videos with words and pronunciation and asks you to select the right answer from a multiple-choice list. In the Practice section, you can find lists of difficult words, review learned words and phrases, and find a list of all completed units.
Two different categories, Immerse and Communicate, include videos recorded by native speakers and AI-generated chats that you can use to improve your speech and communication skills. The main issue is that Memrise doesn’t offer translations for all of the words that you’re learning, so the process can be challenging. Currently, the app offers courses in 22 languages.
Duolingo offers a gamified learning experience that includes repetitions of cards (words and phrases). An AI robot reads the words out loud, helping you improve your pronunciation. Some exercises use voice recording and speech recognition, so you get to practice pronunciation as you’re learning. At the same time, the repeating cards help you memorize words and phrases. The words and phrases are not always translated, but figuring out their meaning is intuitive.
To keep you motivated, Duolingo uses daily goals and quests that earn you experience points. A Leaderboard section allows you to compete with other learners and earn experience points. All these features give Duolingo an edge over Memrise.
Currently, Duolingo offers courses in 45 languages, so that’s another point in its favor.
Completing a course unit on either Memrise or Duolingo shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. Memrise doesn’t prompt users to set any lesson duration goals. When setting up a Duolingo account, you can choose how much you want to study each day, between 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes.
The platform then tracks your activity and gives you points when completing a daily goal. Not reaching the goal results in losing your streak and you won’t gain any experience points. That said, if you don’t care much about the game-like part of Duolingo, you can practice as much or as little as you want.
Regardless of the platform you end up using, you should spend at least 15 minutes per day completing in-app tasks and activities.
Learning a new language is not easy, but a community can keep you motivated. In some cases, you might even end up chatting with native speakers who can help you fulfill your learning goals.
Both Memrise and Duolingo have communities, although only the former has an active forum. The forum includes community-created courses and is a good place to perfect your language skills. The active community also gives you the possibility to connect with other learners or native speakers of your target language.
Duolingo also had an active forum where you could receive native speaker feedback and connect with other learners. However, the platform closed all its communities on March 22, 2022.
The only exception is the Sentence Discussion forum, where you can see feedback on various sentences and other vocabulary issues. The downside is that Duolingo only allows learners to read past conversations on this forum, so you won’t be able to ask questions or participate in discussions.
Free vs. Premium Versions
Both Memrise and Duolingo emerged as free language learning apps, but they now have paid versions as well.
In Memrise’s case, the free version includes access to basic lessons, two Immerse videos, and two Communicate conversations. To access all course units, videos, and chats, you must upgrade to a Premium membership.
Membership options include monthly roll-on plans priced at around $15 per month or a yearly subscription that works out at around $8 per month. Alternatively, you can purchase a lifetime membership that costs $200.
Duolingo offers free access to all lessons and other app features, but wrong answers make you lose hearts (which refill every five hours). The free version also includes lots of annoying ads. If you want to learn without disruptions, upgrading to Super Duolingo removes the ads and provides unlimited hearts. The Super plan also includes mistake reviews and personalized lessons to help correct those mistakes.
If you want to access the special AI features, you have to upgrade the Super membership to a Max plan. Depending on the membership type and plan, you can pay between $7 and $30 per month. Duolingo doesn’t offer lifetime membership options.
Memrise vs. Duolingo: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Both Memrise and Duolingo use the same spaced repetition learning strategy, but the apps were developed independently from one another.
- Memrise includes fewer course units and learning aids in its free plan compared to Duolingo.
- Duolingo offers two types of paid membership options, and it can be more expensive than Memrise, but you can access all course units for free.
- Memrise has an active community forum where you can join discussions and interact with other users.
- Duolingo closed all its forums in 2022, and the only active forum includes read-only discussions alone. You can’t interact with other community members.
Memrise vs. Duolingo: Which One Should You Use?
Duolingo and Memrise are similar in many ways, but the few differences can help you pick one app over the other.
While it doesn’t include all course units in its free plan, Memrise is the best app for learners who want to become part of a community. The platform has an active forum where you can read or participate in discussions.
Duolingo is the best language learning app for users who don’t want to upgrade to a paid plan. While premium memberships come with bells and whistles, you can access all course units and exercise for free.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©dennizn/Shutterstock.com.