Been using the internet for 20 years, yet I don't understand Memrise

I’m sorry, but I just have to vent here. Memrise is INSANE. I’ve been beating my head against a wall trying to understand how it’s laid out, but the more I investigate the more maddening it becomes. If you don’t want to read my rant, skip to the questions I have at the end. Thank you.

I want to learn Japanese. I heard about Duolingo a long time ago and started that course, which was fine at first. Eventually, though, it starts throwing sentences at you without introducing grammar at all. It feels weird to make grammar mistakes knowing that it never teaches you the rules. It’s like a parent who gets mad at a child even though the parent never told the child not to do the thing he/she got mad about.

Anyway, I did some searching and heard a lot of people saying good things about Memrise. I didn’t want to immediately go into the paid version, and besides there were a lot of people who said the paid version wasn’t worth the money. Basically, I wanted to try out the free version before committing any money to it.

As many people do these days, I downloaded the app and browsed everything on my phone. This seems to be part of the problem for me: Memrise in a browser seems to have A LOT more functionality than the iOS app.

I start Japanese 1, and the first problem is that the app is very…busy. There are planets in the middle with connecting lines and all these bubbles off to the sides and some kind of planetary map…none of this stuff is explained. I eventually come to understand that each planet is a particular lesson and you’ll move from one to the other. OK.

But what’s up with the numbering of the planets? They go 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and so on. Some numbers are skipped even at higher levels. I don’t understand what that means.

I start doing the exercises. I get to 4 pretty quickly because I already knew the hiragana. I’m trying to get to Planet 5 now but it’s locked and I don’t understand what to do. When I tap on the lock symbol, the app throws up a message asking if I want to pay for the Pro version.

That’s when I got on a PC and tried to look at Memrise community forums. That turned into its own nightmare…there are so many topics and little organization. I found some topic that looked promising, but scrolling up loaded more and more messages and there was no way to go all the way to the top.

Getting on a PC is also when I discovered all of the user-created courses, which is another thing I don’t understand. Some user-created courses have links to other media like Slideshare PPT presentations, videos, and all kinds of junk.

I have no idea what’s going on or how to use Memrise and it’s very frustrating. Duolingo doesn’t teach grammar, but at least I can easily understand how the app is laid out.

Anyway, here are my questions:

  1. Why are some “planets” in Japanese 1 missing? They’re numbered 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and so on. What happened to 2 and 7? Are they only available to Pro users?

  2. Why can’t I advance to “planet 5” in Japanese 1? Is “planet 5” and above only available to Pro users?

Thank you for your time and for listening to my rant.


You have mentioned that you are trying to use the IOS App, the problem lies in there, the app is quite buggy and no one really understands how it works. See this post, there have been collected quite a few problems with this version.

From what I understood the best way to go around this (for most users) is, to start a usercreated course on the PC and then go back to the app. Or just use it on the PC.

It’s quite sad that the IOS app is so buggy, compared to the android version that sometimes works even better then the PC. But there are also funktions that are PC only.

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Hehe, if you’ve been using the internet for 20 years, you should be used to it by now: Most actors are good at some things, and not so good at other things (that’s true for life in general too, really ;)).

Anyway, I wanted to comment on some of your comments - not so much on your specific questions…

Imo Memrise are good at many aspects relating to the website, and really suck at other (fewer) aspects of the website. I’m personally no fan of the app, I learn more using the website, because the app makes it easier to answer the question (e.g. on-screen keyboard shows only the letters you need). Unfortunately, the current general development trend is to make the website more like the app :(.

One thing I noticed on one of my own courses is that the multimedia levels (what you refer to as “junk”, but it can also be plain text explaining something, which sounds like exactly what you were missing on Duolingo) aren’t available in the app, so there are “gaps” in the numbering when viewed in the app. But rather that, than having a different set of numbers used in the app. I don’t know if multimedia levels are used in the official Memrise courses.

There are no official courses for the language I’m interested in, so for me obviously the availability of user-created courses is a key feature :). Because everyone can make a course, there’s of course a lot of variation in quality, but that’s hard to avoid (and I’m very happy that Memrise aren’t trying to police user courses - there are other areas where their time is better spent).

Perhaps there should be some kind of “getting started with memrise” wizard available to new users on the app…


I think the problems you are having understanding memrise have to do with its history.

Memrise started off as a web-based language-learning platform, offering a space for people to create their own language (or other) courses using memrise’s software and algorithms. This would have been about six years ago. The cool thing about memrise was that you could make mems yourself - the images or text (or both) attached to words - and also attach audio files to the words.

Many people from all around the world came here and created courses. The quality of these “community-created” courses naturally varies greatly. There are some courses which are rubbish, others which are great.

Move on a couple of years: the memrise team decides to create its own courses and asks for help from the community. These were, say, “German A1” and so on. Users were invited to make mems and the memrise team created mems to help explain the grammar.

Move on again: the memrise team ditches this strategy, starts creating a new bunch of courses, but this time they are available as an app for smartphone users. At some point, it is only possible to access courses created by the memrise team on the app, but all the community courses still exist on the web. If you access these courses on the web, they will be available on your phone.

Complicated, huh?

But that is the history of memrise, as far as I know. And using memrise on an Apple phone has been a pain for EVER, from what I gather. Works fine on an Android phone, though :slight_smile:

Maybe buy an Android phone??? :smiley:


What Amanda has not already mentioned is that the user-created MEMS on the offical 1-7 courses (which replaced A1, A2, etc.) are gone.
You can not see / select MEMS anymore if you take any 1-7 course from them.


Memrise - just like DuoLingo - regulary rolls out app updates.

I do not have the great impression that those app versions (no matter what vendor) are deeply tested (QS) for several weeks.

If you check the 2-3 recent threads about the IOS app and “can not learn, only plants three words, ignores learning settings, review does not work, etc.” issues you might get the impression that the rolled out app version updates are quite buggy.

I do not use the IOS app.
I used the Android app.

I do believe that the Android app (two designs - classic and planet - are working both good in it’s unique way; you can switch designs back and forth) is pretty good, at least the older version v2.9_3947 which I am personally using.

Newer Memrise Android app versions may work or may not work, depending on QS and previous detail-tests and rolled out “updates/bugs”.

At least you can manually rollback an Android app update to a previous version - you can install MANUALLY the .apk file from an archive site.
You can not do the same for IOS.

I sometimes used the Memrise Android app with an Android emulator software (e.g KOPlayer, BlueStacks, NOX, Memu, etc.) to learn NEW words / multiple levels.
You can make use of the “half-planting” of words, which means three instead of full six flower planting steps. This will help that you do not overload your review backlog queue (if it is not empty).
So I can cleary say that this works or “worked” for me at that time.

I would NOT suggest to use the app to REVIEW your previously learned words.
Stick to the web portal to review words by installing a bunch of user scripts to enhance the default (non-existing) Memrise functionality:

  • disable the annoying timer
  • install audio provider to hear TTS if words have no audio
  • use “all typing” by Cooljingle to disable multiple-choice tests
  • install “Auto-Correct” to make use of diacritics in “forced-typing” courses (I believe you need it now to workaround problems because of web portal updates)
  • disable “Auto accept” feature (came with one of the Memrise updates) with a user script if you use a course with longer sentences (may work better for single word courses): It auto jumps to the next question if you give the correct answer (marked green).

There is a big thread on the community forum which links many (if not all) known user scripts. Maybe I can link it later.

With Cooljingle’s “all typing” user script you can practice RECALLING words/phrases/sentences, that is translating from L1 English to L2 target language (e.g Portuguese, Spanish, French).

The Memrise web portal is IMHO so much better for reviewing than the Android app (where the apps brings you multiple-choice, too many hints, on-screen keyboards), even staff is trying very hard to break it on each update (or by removing features, killing user scripts on each update, etc.) and make it more and more “app-like” (I wish they would stop this!).

IMHO you can not use the Memrise web portal without a bunch of Tampermonkey user scripts, especially with broken or added “functionality” from past updates, to use it to it’s full potential.

If I were you, I would only use the Android app (older more stable version e.g v2.9_3947) to sometimes learn 10++ NEW words when you are not at home.

Duolingo doesn’t teach grammar, but at least I can easily understand how the app is laid out.

IMHO you are quite wrong with this statement!!!

DuoLingo DOES teach grammar. But only on the full desktop web portal, not on the app.

On the website (even with the latest “Skill crown update”: 2nd lightbulb button on the right) you can view for each skill “tips and notes” which highlight grammar.

The course skills you learn on DuoLingo just have to have those notes.
They are unfortunately not available for ALL courses/skills.
For my EN-Portuguese course those “tips and notes” were pretty good and almost available for EACH skill, especially if it is a “grammar skill”.
This may not be the same in quantity for other courses like EN-Spanish.

If you use only the Duolingo app, you can of course NOT see those notes.

You would have to install Chrome, Firefox on your smartphone and access the web portal (force full desktop mode vs compact mobile view).
Memrise does not explain (teach) grammar in the e.g PT BR Basic course, PT BR 1-7. Neither there are MEMS.
So you need to “learn” grammar with a book or with a DuoLingo tree before (e.g imperative).

But all of those Memrise courses show different sentences / phrases with varying grammar complexity as an example.
If you understand how to correctly/build them, it is great to review/practice with those shown Memrise sentences (I had a “AHHA” moment when I learned the “Imperative” skill on Duo but I completed the PT BR Basic course before).

If you continue to try to use (those) learning applications only on the mobile app, you will miss more than 85% of their available and better functionality from their websites!

DuoLingo App = tapping
DuoLingo Web Portal = typing

If you really want to use flashcards on mobile phones, install either the IOS (costs money as commercial) or Android (free) apps for AnkiSRS.
I have not tried them myself, but those apps will be more useful FOR REVIEWS as they work together for AnkiSRS which you can highly customize for learning and review settings.

You should NOT focus on DuoLingo app tapping, Memrise mobile typing hints, multiple-choice for reviews (gives false positives and corrupts your SR intervals, etc.).

These are my personal opinions. Not everyone might share them.

Other Memrise users make e.g great use of “Speed (multiple-choice”) reviews" which IMHO work better on the Android app than on the web portal because of the red timer bar which works way too fast with PT1-7 (full sentences).

I do sometimes use(d) it too, but not with a full backlog queue.
Memrise web portal supports over-watering with multiple exercise challenge types. My personal opinion is, that those addon-reviews shall not corrupt your SR intervals, so I only use those with over-watering when my backlog is empty.


Thanks for adding that info!

I was so annoyed when they did that thing with the mems :frowning: I had personally gone on the German courses and wrote various explanatory mems and - back when you could give “likes” for mems - the ones I had done for German were really popular. When they said they were removing access to other people’s mems on those courses, I went to my page and, with great sadness, deleted all the mems I had made for German.

I am using “Dutch 2” at the moment and it feels so lonely, compared with the community-created courses … :frowning:


The iOS app has a lot of unnecessary chrome that just causes crashes and it not needed for learning languages. I wish they would show the UI to an expert who would help them out with making the iOS app more useable.

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You might consider the Suggested Guide for Japanese Literacy course list instead. Use the scripts to make it better (autolearn, timer disable, turn off auto-accept, etc.).

I don’t know about the particular lessons you were studying last year, but the Memrise-created lessons skip lessons because you’re using the free version. To access the missing lessons, one needs to go pro. I know because I had the same question, and searched until I found the answer.

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