Memrise vs. Duolingo – A Head-To-Head Comparison

Memrise Score 7.4
7.4/10
Duolingo Score 4.7
4.7/10

Verdict

  • Memrise came out the clear winner in our Memrise vs. Duolingo matrix below. But really my advice is – use them both! If you want to invest in paying for pro versions, I prefer Memrise over Duolingo for sheer depth and breadth of content in the ecosystem, and for their video learn-with-locals content.

Overall Thoughts

  • Duolingo and Memrise are similar products, with some major differences. They both aim to teach you language through small chuncks of information, such as words , sentences and phrases, in a gamified environment. But Memrise is more of an “ecosystem”, that houses large amounts of user generated content. Duolingo is more of a standardised, curated course. You could say that Memrise is closer to a an android phone, or a Windows PC, that is open to various software makers, and Duolingo is closer to an iPhone or Apple computer, which is a closed software environment that aims to provide a streamlined and seamless experience. 
memorise versus Duolingo - android phone
Memrise is an open environment, like Android.
Duolingo Versus Memrise - iPhone
Duolingo is a closed environment, like iOS on Apple.
  • Another way to look at is as Memrise being a “swiss army knife” and Duolingo being a “screwdriver”. You can use Memrise to learn just about anything that requires memorising a large amount of information. You will find user generated courses on learning everything from Morse Code, to sign language, all the way through to Harry Potter Spells!
Memrise vs. Duolingo
Memrise is a multipurpose tool, like a Swiss Army Knife
Memrise vs Duolingo - screwdriver
Duolingo is a precision tool, like a screwdriver
  • To do a solid comparison of Memrise vs. Duolingo, we’ve put the features of each side-by-side in matrix below. We assigned either a check, neutral, or cross rating for each criteria. We then assigned 2 points for a check, one for neutral and 0 for a cross. 
  • In this comparison Memrise came out with 25 out of a possible 34 points (which is 73.5 out of 100).
  • Duolingo came out with 16 out of a possible 34 points (which is 47 out of 100)
  • Neither of the platforms work as an all inclusive, silver-bullet for learning language. These are best used in conjunction with some of the tools listed below:

Too really learn a language, combine with these tools:

New Pimsleur Logo 125x125button

  • Pimsleur Method – Most highly recommended for a systematic, listening and speaking focused program backed by a scientific approach

  • Rocketlanguages – For a systematic, wholistic course for begginner to intermediate students.

Too really learn a language, combine with these tools

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

  • Japanese Pod 101 – for a continually updating, dynamic podcast approach to learning with masses of content.
headphones at station
These options are better for studying on the go

Memrise Vs. Duolingo Matrix

Feature

Price

Memrise

Free or $5.83 per month

On an annual subscription

Duolingo

Free or 6.99 per month

On an annual subscription

Does paying for premium get you much?

More lessons

Access to all the Memrise native produced “learn with locals” video content, learn “difficult words” function, Grammar and Chat bots, statistics.

memrise learn with locals

No ads

Remove ads, unlimited hearts (don’t have to keep restarting lessons), do lessons offline, monthly repair streak, progress quizzes.

The main selling point ofduolingo plus is no ads

Does it teach you much?

Teaches basic vocab and phrases

Access to all the Memrise native produced “learn with locals” video content, learn “difficult words” function, Grammar and Chat bots, statistics.

Teaches you longer sentences that build on words you already know.

You can click/touch any word at anytime to find the meaning

Audio Lessons

No audio only lesson

A resources such as Pimsleur is better for learning on the go.

No audio only lesson

A resources such as Pimsleur is better for learning on the go.

Video Lessons

Yes

Body language is present, which actually makes a big difference and is a lot more realistic. Gives language in context.

Memrise video gives you body language and context

No

Native Speaker Audio

“Learn with locals” video lessons

Body language is present, which actually makes a big difference and is a lot more realistic. Gives language in context.







Computer generated sentences

Duolingo has lots of individual words that it has recorded which are then strung together by the computer to make sentences. The way real people pronounce words when they string them together is actually quite different. This means Duolingo example sentences sound mechanical and less realistic.


duolingo dialogue is chunked up and sounds less natural

Gamification

Uses Gamification including levels, points and leaderboards.

These features are not bad, but not great, in Memrise. Especially in the user-generated lessons, sometimes levels and points make no sense at all. When I tired a user-generated Japanese lesson after completing one lesson it told me I had “reached level 10. 128380 / 320000 points”. 320000 points? Huh?!

memrise versus duolingo
Those points mean what?!

Uses Better Gamification including levels, points and leaderboards.

This is really well done in Duolingo and really does help keep you motivated. You can compete against friends, or against the whole world. There are series of leagues, such as gold, silver, bronze etc. It’s all well laid out, seamless, and one of the major up sides of using Duolingo.


Duolingo Japanese
Duolingo does leagues & competing with friends really well

User Generated Content

Memrise has a huge amount of user made content

This is one of the big strengths of Memrise. Users have contributed lessons on a HUGE range of topics, including frivolous things like learning Harry Potter Spells or fictious languages, but also really great niche things like learning all the jargon to do with buddhist thought and philosophy in Japanese. It also has many of the curriculums of your favourite textbooks. You could use it to learn Morse Code.


A Japanese Buddhist Jargon lesson uploaded by a user

No



















Curated Structured course

Memrise has native courses made in-house.

Unfortunately, these aren’t as rigourously put together as Duolingo. Memrise content often leaves you feeling like you are learning things “out of order” or a little haphazardly.

Memrise has a large ecosystem of user content

Duonlingo has highly streamlined content.

Duolingo does a great job of introducting new words and sentence structures in a logical, systematic way where each new step builds on the last.


duolingo_20200403-162724
Duolingo content is well structured

Spaced repetition

Yes

Platform dynamically repeats content for optimal recall.


Yes

Platform dynamically repeats content for optimal recall.


Speaking Practice

Includes pronunciation recording lessons.

Does not prompt you to actively create sentences in a quasi-conversational way, as Pimsleur does.

Includes pronunciation recording lessons.

Does not prompt you to actively create sentences in a quasi-conversational way, as Pimsleur does.

Amount of content

The amount of user content makes the Memrise a clear winner over Duolingo

But be aware that because of the user-generated nature of the platform, the content is sprawling and not easy to navigate.


Duolingo has enough content to get you to a basic conversational level of knowledge

Duolingo doesn’t really give you the tools to actually use it conversationally. For that you would need a tool such as iTalki.) It doesn’t have the sheer volume that a talk such as the Innovative Language 101 programs do.

Grammer

Memrise native content does include some limited grammer notes.

This is certainly not a strong point of the Memrise platform.


Memrise has some limited grammer and usage notes

Duolingo does include grammer notes with many lessons, and comes out slightly on top of Memrise.

It’s still not a big strong point of Duolingo.

Duolingo has break-out grammer notes

Mnemonics

Customizable mnemonics on content

Memrise lets you add a memnonic to help you make things stick. So you could add a note to the Japanese word for “one, two, three”, which is “ichi, ni, san” saying “I sure do have and itchy knee son”. Much of the user generated content includes 4 or 5 different mnemonics that people have already put in for you, often with pictures.

A user generated mnemonic note

No















Quizes and Review

Gives you regular reviews and quizes

but doesn’t do a great job of quizes of material across everything you’ve learnt



Tests current material as you go

But only lets you quiz yourself across everything you’ve learnt in the paid version. This becomes an issue as you progress and you want to see how far you have actually come.

Lesson Length

Memrise lessons are shorter than Duolingo

Memrise lets you add a memnonic to help you make things stick. So you could add a note to the Japanese word for “one, two, three”, which is “ichi, ni, san” saying “I sure do have and itchy knee son”. Much of the user generated content includes 4 or 5 different mnemonics that people have already put in for you, often with pictures.

Duolingo lessons are longer than Memrise

meaning you may not always have time to finish them in one sitting. This can be annoying because, in Duolingo's gamified environment, you can lose your progress when you try to come back to completing a lesson you had to pause half way through.

Summary Duolingo Versus Memrise

Even though Memrise came out as a clear winner in our head to head Memrise vs. Duolingo matrix, we think they are both useful tools that should be in your language arsenal. Neither of these tools is really enough to take you all the way with your language study though, so you will need to combine them with some of the programs below.

 

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Language Learning Program Reviews

About the reviewer

I’m Peter Head. I have succesfully completed the  highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N1). I lived in Japan for four years as a student and on working holiday.  I have toured the country six times playing music and singing songs in Japanese and English.

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