If you’re learning a new language, you’ve probably come across useful apps like Duolingo and Memrise. These language learning apps have both a mobile app and a desktop app, making it easy to continue your learning wherever you are.
Duolingo has over 130 million users and Memrise over 60 million users, but the popularity may not be due to the efficiency of the application, but rather to the marketing strategies used by each. Let’s see exactly what the differences between Duolingo and Memrise are, and see which one would be better for your language learning journey.
The languages available to learn on Duolingo vary depending on the language you are trying to learn from. For example, English speakers are the most available when it comes to learning new languages, with 38 languages to choose from right now. If you’re a French speaker, however, you only have six different languages to start learning.
English speakers have the ability to learn popular languages including Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Italian, Hindi, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, etc. Duolingo also offers learners more fictional niche languages for fun, like Klingon and High Valyrian.
Memrise, on the other hand, only offers 23 languages, all real (not like Klingon or High Valyrian). Some of the most popular languages on Memrise for English speakers are Spanish, French, German, Korean, Russian, and Japanese. When changing the spoken language from English to French, Memrise still offered most of the same languages.
Learning and lesson structure
Memrise uses a flashcard learning style for words and phrases. When you start a new course, you will see a series of words and, as you progress, more complicated sentences. You can tell Memrise that you already know that word or phrase, or you can press the teach me that button.
Most Memrise words and phrases come with a video of a native speaker saying that word or phrase. Being able to see a video of a native speaker helps you learn to pronounce the word correctly and associate an action or image with the word. In addition to the useful video, you can see a literal translation and a free translation for each word.
Once you have learned quite a few words and phrases in the To learn section, you can consult the Review, ImmerseWhere Communicate topics to deepen your knowledge.
- the Review allows you to test all the knowledge you have acquired so far, with a classic exam or a quick exam. Then you can also choose to revise only the words you have struggled with before.
- the Immerse The section tests your listening skills and has a ‘Learn with the locals’ feature that lets you hear how native speakers would react in certain situations.
- Finally, the Communicate section helps you with your pronunciation skills.
The Duolingo app presents you with an easier learning approach. Instead of learning individual words and phrases, Duolingo presents an entire course at once with a mix of vocabulary and grammar. Although you can see the entire course when you start learning a new language, some lessons are locked until you complete previous modules.
Each language lesson in Duolingo has a number of units, which you can choose to test at the start of a lesson if you already have some prior knowledge. Otherwise, you start from unit 1 and work your way down! At the end of each unit there is a checkpoint quiz that you must pass to unlock the next unit.
Most modules in a unit have five different levels up to mastery. Each level consists of approximately four to six lessons. In other words, there is a lot to learn before moving on! This repetition is incredibly helpful, and you can hear words and phrases spoken to you as well as repeat them to make sure you’re pronouncing everything correctly.
Generally, when you start a module for the first time, the lessons will be much simpler. At the first level, you’ll probably see lots of individual words that you’ll need to practice by repeating and matching them. Then, as you progress through the module, you’ll begin to see complete sentences and test your grammar skills.
Each module is also accompanied by a Advice section, where you can read a short Duolingo lesson. It will go over everything you will learn in the module and explain the difference between your mother tongue and the language you are learning.
Duolingo also inspires users to keep learning through in-app gamification. If you’re not sure what gamification is, it’s basically when you attach achievements and other gamified stuff to something that isn’t traditionally a game, like learning a language, to incentivize you to come back. Here are some gamified elements in Duolingo:
- Daily series: You must do at least one lesson per day to continue your streak on Duolingo. You can purchase a Streak Freeze from the in-game store with gems you earn from completing lessons.
- Achievements: The game features fun achievements that inspire you to learn, like following a streak for 365 days, learning 2,000 words in a new course, completing 100 lessons with no mistakes, and more.
- Experience: Each lesson you complete earns you experience. There are experience challenges every month, and you can check your friends to see how much experience they have compared to you.
- Leagues: Each week you are thrown into a league with other players. If you gain enough experience to be in the Top 10 (out of 30 people), then you move on to the next league. If you land in the bottom 5, you are demoted to the previous league.
Online forums and communities
When it comes to online forums, Memrise is way ahead. Duolingo used to have a healthy dose of language data and help in its online forums, but as of March 22, 2022, those helpful forums are disappearing.
Some community-building features on Duolingo will remain, such as the ability to add friends and compete with other language learners in leagues each week. These features certainly encourage a sense of camaraderie among Duolingo users, but the lack of forums to check out when you have a burning question is disappointing. You can still check out unofficial forums like r/duolingo, but they aren’t monitored by Duolingo.
Memrise, on the other hand, has an extensive user forum that covers all sorts of topics. In the Memrise forum, there are four main categories to explore: Welcome to the forum !, Official Memrise Courses, Memrise bug checkand Community-created courses. Within each of these categories, there are a ton of subcategories to explore, all with user-generated comments and questions.
Duolingo’s premium plan, Duolingo Plus, offers plenty of features for a monthly or yearly subscription. With Duolingo Plus, you won’t see any ads, you can take as many lessons as you want without any restrictions, and take as many progress quizzes as you want.
If you go month by month, it will cost you $12.99 per month. Paying annually gets you a massive discount ($79.99 per year), averaging just under $7 per month. Duolingo also introduced a family plan option for two to six members that costs $119.99 per year; even if you only have two people using this plan, it’s still a better deal than an individual plan.
The Pro version of Memrise is more affordable than Duolingo Plus and gives you access to all of its language courses, over 30,000 native speaker video clips, and the ability to download all courses to use offline.
You can pay a one-time subscription or lifetime fee that renews monthly or annually. The lifetime fee is $119.99, which equals two annual subscriptions. If you pay monthly, it’s $8.49 per month; and if you pay annually, it’s $59.98 per year (although Memrise often offers a half-price offer for its annual subscription).
Duolingo vs. Memrise: Which App is Best for You?
To be honest, the apps would be great if used in tandem. Memrise helps you expand your vocabulary, while Duolingo helps you learn the basics of grammar and sentence structure in a new language.
If you only use one app, we recommend Duolingo, as it gives you a better overview of a language and helps cement the foundation. But if you want to expand your learning as you progress through your Duolingo course, downloading Memrise will help you become more fluent.
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