Memrise vs Duolingo

Overview of Memrise and Duolingo

Before we go into detail of these two language apps, we decided to compare the apps using the following key factors:

  • Price
  • Convenience
  • Language options
  • Interactive
  • Focus



  • Price: Free (and premium subscription)
  • Structure: Creating and reading digital flash cards
  • Language options: Over 20 languages available offered in 150+ language courses
  • Interactive: Low
  • Focus: Grammar and vocabulary



  • Price: Free
  • Structure: Gamified instructional courses
  • Language options: 28 languages classes available for English speakers
  • Interactive: Low
  • Focus: Learning basic vocabulary words and grammar rules


Memrise vs Duolingo breakdown


What is Memrise?

Memrise is a free language app that is primarily used for creating and learning through digital flash cards. It is particularly useful for memorizing new vocabulary words when learning a new language or new words in general. The company launched their beta in 2012, and today has over 20 million registered users from around the world. In addition to offering digital flash cards, the app now offers a video library, chat bots, and more for premium subscribers.


What is Duolingo?

Duolingo is also a free language app that offers over 31 different language options for English speakers. Compared to Memrise, Duolingo offers an instructional and guided learning experience, especially for beginners. As of 2018, the company has over 150MM+ registered users and is headquartered in San Francisco, USA.


How Memrise works

Let’s go through how Memrise works for new users who have never signed up for Memrise.


1. Choose what language you want to learn

When you first visit Memrise, the first call-to-action is to pick which language you’re looking to learn. With over 20 languages available on the platform, chances are you’ll find the one you’re looking for. Next, they’ll also ask you whether you’re a beginner or intermediate level proficiency in the chosen language.



2. Select which level you want to learn

Upon choosing your language, you’ll find different level options in your respective language. Most of them are organized via numericals such as French 1, French 2, French 3, etc. Logically, if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll choose French 1 or you can go through them one by one to judge how much of the displayed vocabulary you already know.



3. Start memorizing

Now you can start going through the words using the template that Memrise has provided. In this example below, there are 12 basic French words such as hello, goodbye, how are you, and so forth which is appropriate for French 1 learners. After completing the basic level, you can move on to the next level. This progressive learning method is similar to what Duolingo offers.



Optional: Memrise Premium plan

While Memrise has a forever free plan that is used by the majority of their userbase, they also offer a premium plan for those who want more features. These include grammar bot, videos, audio lessons, and more to help you advance your skillsets in addition to the digital flash cards provided.



Pricing wise, it offers a fairly affordable option if you find value in their premium services.

Price breakdown:

  • Month-to-month: $9/mo
  • 3 Months: $6.33/mo
  • Annual: $4.92/mo
  • Lifetime: $129



How Duolingo Works

Now let’s go over the onboarding process of Duolingo for new users.

1. Test your language skills

Duolingo offers a free (and optional) proficiency test to get a rough estimate of what your language skills are before you get started. If you’re just starting to learn a new language, this is not necessary and you can just skip this section.



2. Learn the basic words

Given its main focus on helping language learners develop basic vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures, you begin the experience by learning new words.


3. Start putting sentences together

After going through a series of vocabulary lessons for your target language, the app will now focus on sentence formations and grammar. They achieve this via fill-in-the-blank questions, direct sentence translations, and matching words together.



4. Level up until you complete the course

One of the differences between Babbel and Duolingo is that the latter offers a gamification experience. Some have stated that this is the reason they enjoy learning on Duolingo more, because it feels fun and interactive.



Business model

Both apps offer a similar pricing model in that it’s free for everyone to use, with the upsell offering of a premium subscription. However, Duolingo does seem to have a more unique method of monetizing their userbase, in addition to premium subscriptions. In fact, paid subscription is a relatively new business model that the company is experimenting with.

Here are the 4 main ways that Duolingo makes money:

  • Translation: Duolingo users translate new words and vocabulary to learn their target language, and the company sells the translation to major corporations like CNN and Buzzfeed (Duolingo CEO’s answer on Quora).
  • Advertising: As of recent, the company has been focusing more on working on big advertising campaigns with companies like AirBnB, where the cost to participate is $250K minimum spend for one week.
  • Certification tests: They also have a placement test service where users can pay ~$20 to prove their language skills.
  • Paid subscription: As of April 2017, the company started offering a premium subscription service (similar to Babbel) priced at $9.99 a month. Premium users will get an ad-free experience with offline access.

It’s still early to say in 2018 what the core business model for Duolingo will become, and we will be sure to update this post to reflect the most recent news.



As we mentioned, the focus of Memrise is around making it easy to memorize new words. The value of Memrise comes from the ability to easily create new flash cards that you can consume on your mobile, desktop, or tablet, and the templates already created by other users. In addition, Memrise is not just for learning new language vocabulary. You can learn history, biology, chemistry, and more terms in the app.

Duolingo on the other hand is primarily focused on language learning. It offers a more guided learning experience with an emphasis on gamification in order to increase the engagement of users.


In conclusion: Is Memrise better than Duolingo?

This is an apples and orange question. Given the similar value that Memrise and Duolingo offers, we believe it’s best to use one or the other. However, both tools offer a useful complementary value for your private language lessons or classes.

What we wil say is: if you’re looking for a more engaging way to learn a new language on-the-go, Duolingo is a better choice given their focus on gamification. If you have a group of words that you want to memorize, say the most common Spanish words, Memrise is the right choice given their flash card format.


An Alternative to Memrise and Duolingo

While Memrise and Duolingo are useful for dipping your feet into the pool via learning basic vocabulary words, it can only take you so far. Most people who are learning a new language want to have a native conversation with local speakers and build genuine relationships. In order for this to happen, becoming a confident conversation speaker in a new language is a requirement. Perhaps more so than mastering grammar rules.

Meet Rype: the #1 language membership for busy people looking to become a fluent speaker. As a Rype member, you can book daily 1-on-1 language lessons around your busy schedule with handpicked professional teachers.

If you want to see real results in your language speaking abilities, research shows that the human brain retains…

5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
20% of what they learn from audio-visual (Babbel and Duolingo)
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned (Rype)
90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately (Rype)babbel reviewIn short, according to scientific research, the learning method used for Rype is 4.5x more effective than Babbel and Duolingo.


A customized language program 

While Memrise and Duolingo offer a non-customized program with low engagement, Rype offers a fully personalized learning experience with live engagement in real-time.

This allows you to only learn the materials that you care about, and what will help you reach your goals faster. In other words, no more wasting time on learning nonuseful things, so you have more time for things you actually enjoy.



Concluding our review

We hope this breakdown between Memrise and Duolingo was useful. If you’re ready to accelerate your results to speak a new language confidently, Rype offers a risk-free trial for new members which you can claim today. Or learn how it works here.

If you still have questions, email us at anytime:

We can’t wait to have you inside our family.


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