Memrise is a language and vocabulary learning app that uses memory enhancement techniques that are backed up by scientific research. Users can choose from over 200 languages, including constructed ones like Esperanto, and Klingon. Memrise designer and memory coach Ed Cooke works in collaboration with University College London to run the Memrise Prize. This annual competition awards $10,000 to whoever can present the best methodology for learning vocabulary. The most effective methods are then fed back into the Memrise app.
Memrise takes the language you want to learn and breaks it down into courses. These courses can vary from grammar to vocabulary to verb conjugation or any combination of those. The structure of these courses is largely the same. You are presented with a word or short phrase along with a pronunciation audio clip. There is also a series of user provided images to help the learner remember the word. Sometimes this clever memory aide is a picture, sometimes a comic or sentence. As the lesson progresses, you are presented with new words and tested on the ones you have already learned. Test questions include identifying the correct word, typing the correct word or phrase, arranging the words of a phrase, or matching an audio clip with a written word.
The overarching concept of Memrise is that each word is a seed, and you are growing memories by learning these words. Every time you successfully answer the test questions, a new part of your memory plant grows. Eventually, you will have a full flower, and you can see the progress of your plants in the course’s results page. Memrise takes the learning process one step further and introduces a social element. You can add your friends and compete with them on leaderboards using a points system.
The amount of free content on this app is staggering. While Memrise mainly promotes language courses, you can also select lessons in other fields such as science, memory training and standardized tests. If that is not enough for you, there is a paid subscription option that adds more features, such as extensive results tracking and instruction videos, to help boost you up to language fluency.
One of the admittedly few downsides is that the app can be a little difficult to navigate at first, and the help section is not, well, helpful. New users might find themselves looking to the FAQ on Memrise’s website. The subscription service may also be prohibitively expensive for some; the yearly rate is $60, which seems a little pricey for an app. Overall, however, this app is very useful to any beginning language user or anyone who wishes to brush up on his or her skills.