Best way to optimise your use of Memrise?

Hello everyone, I have been thinking lately about how to get the most out of using Memrise to learn foreign language vocabulary, and wanted to hear the tips and tricks and processes that people here have found to work well for them.

For me, on a (Japanese) vocabulary course I like to use the preview feature twice on every level before learning it. One round of previewing done slowly so as to understand the meaning of each word, and then a second round of previewing done quickly. After doing this, I find that the learning process is much smoother and my long-term retention of the words goes way up versus just clicking learn on a level without looking at its contents first.

I’ve seen some people say that they like to skip the learning/planting process altogether and just mark words as learned and then do reviews of them. For sure that would save a lot of time, but how do you find your retention of new words is when you haven’t spent so much time thinking about them?

Any other little tricks and optimisations that people use to get the best results from Memrise, I would be interested to hear.


Most people on this Forum love(d) Mems.

Particularly for languages with characters/ script.
(There are threads dedicated to that eg » see « )

But even for non language courses created by the Community, they really helped learn a term, expression or image etc.

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Hello, @two-generals-problem, and anyone else who will happen to read this,

We are all different and what suits one person may not be optimal for another, so what follows is what works for me and I can only hope that some of you will find it useful.

A. I do a number of courses in the same language and at the same level simultaneously.
No two beginner courses are the same, just as two Indian, Chinese, or Greek restaurants will both serve Indian, Chinese, or Greek food but they have different menus as well as different chefs. Some chefs are better than others and some course creators are like top-notch chefs while some are on their very first cooking lessons. Very short courses tend to fall in the second category.
Doing several courses simultaneously leads to more repetition while taking the “oh, I’m so bored” out of it as you can switch from one course to another.
=> One can only ever master a foreign language if the basics of it sit there in the back-offices of one’s memory stable as a rock. The larger the building you want to build, the stronger the foundations must be.

B. Learning on your laptop is far superior to using your cell/mobile phone, especially if your laptop has a keyboard with numbers to the right of the alphabet characters, for speed and convenience.

C. When doing user-generated courses I only ‘learn new words’ and do the ‘speed repetition’ (set at 100 words) whereas I take all the steps as they come on the official Memrise courses.
To change the pre-set options: go to ‘Profile’ - ‘edit profile’ - ‘learning’ and check out what works best for you.

D. Important! Say The Words Out Loud!
If you don’t, well, then you’ll never get your tongue, lips, mouth & vocal cords to work together and actually cooperate when you say whatever you are trying to say in the language you spent so many hours learning, quiet as a mouse.
And… do overdo it! Be theatrical! Play with the rhythm. Play with the intonation. Play with the melody if the language you are learning has melody as a feature. Play with saying sentences out loud in different moods, i.e. as if the person saying it is angry, in love, stuck up, cowering, happy, overconfident, very old or very young, in a superior or inferior position, happy-go-lucky or sorry. Have fun. It always helps.

E. Get used to looking the words up in online dictionaries.
Why? Because then you will get examples of how the words are used in a sentence as well as additional meanings of said words.
Personally, I use (listening feature & simple language in sample sentences) and (always correct, with serious sample sentences, plus a superb AI-translation feature).
There are of course many more online dictionaries. Use one or two that work the best for you and the language you are studying.

F. Another thing I find to be very useful at times is Wikipedia since you can go from an article in one language to the same article in another language.

@two-generals-problem, I am of the same opinion as you have on marking words as learned as I’d too rather do the extra work, but I can see that it can be useful for someone with more advanced knowledge who is for some reason doing a lower level course. The trouble there is that we humans are too prone to overestimate our own knowledge! (I once heard an acquaintance say that she did not need to prepare for the Proficiency exams because “I speak much perfect English.”)

“Any other little tricks and optimisations that people use to get the best results from Memrise, I would be interested to hear.” I agree.
Chip in, guys!


Hi @Monika_Soffronow94 and as you seem fairly new to the Forum, welcome, and I’m glad you found it.

And thank you for your helpful contribution (and promotion of Community Created Courses).

Hi @DW7, and thank you for your kind words.

I see you are doing a lot of very different courses. That leads me to another feature of memrise that I have been using. I often look up what courses the course leaders have been taking and add from theirs to the courses I do.

What are your ways to optimize learning a foreign language on Memrise?

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Thank you @Monika_Soffronow94.

I am fairly fluent in Italian so am mostly supporting the Italian language courses.
(Although I have created and support many courses on lots of other non-language subjects.)

I think testing (once learned) is most helpful ‘either way’, so I’ve created “Reversed” levels.

As for hints: complete the 7 MemRise courses then try as many Community Created Courses as possible, ignoring words or phrases you know.

I revise a subject (topic) at a time then choose another.
(eg Italian this month, geology another month then say maps & flags.)

Listen to lots.
Use the internet radio and TV to pick up foreign station.

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This is more about what NOT to do. I find Speed Review absolutely useless. As a teacher of French I tell my students not to use it when we have a Memrise session during class. Unfortunately, they use it as home if they get Memrise as homework since it’s a fast way to reach their points target. It would be great if Memrise would get rid of this counterproductive feature - or at least allow course creators to disable it.


Wow, that is indeed from a different point of view. Maybe the crux of the matter is that your students are given an x amount of points as a target when you give them Memrise homework, and not actually the Speed Review as such. Maybe you could give them x amounts of new words as a target as well as x amount of points?
I am learning (or trying to learn) Dutch since late May this year and I find the Speed Review to be very, very useful since it allows me to do just what it says, review a lot of words without having to spend an excessive amount of time on it. And you know what they say, Repetition Is The Mother Of All Knowledge.
Buuut… back to the subject matter:
@brianhanney, What is YOUR best way to optimize your use of Memrise?

Hello again, @DW7,

You write “I think testing (once learned) is most helpful ‘either way’, so I’ve created “Reversed” levels.”
Could you please expand a little?
What do you mean by “testing”? Like formal language certificates or online testing, if there is such a thing? Does Memrise have tests?
And what are “Reversed levels”?

I never thought about internet radio. Neat idea. Do you have any tips about finding foreign language radio channels? (Yes, I am most definitely a dinosaur.)

Could you recommend a few of your favorite community-created courses for Italian? I am invited to a wedding in Italy next summer and I intend to get to a somewhat decent level in Italian by then. Faking Italian using Spanish words in a fake Italian accent can only get you so far, even though it does let you communicate to a certain degree while adding smiles and gestures.

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Hi @Monika_Soffronow94,

Re Reversed testing:
Once you have fully learned a level and have a flower, then any testing (revision) is only in one direction - eg English to Italian.
Reversed levels give you the chance to start a revision programme and once you have a flower will test you in the other direction - ie Italian to English.

[Italian to English is to help you understand what is being said and English to Italian is so you can reply.]

A lot of Community courses have audio. Look for short ones to start with, popular ones and with audio and any subject/ topic you fancy.

Here is a » link « that will show you all the courses I’ve have supported - not all with audio.

Re Radio:
If you want say » “Rai uno” « search for that.

I used to recommend Radio Garden (web or App), but my computer says it’s not secure, and it is not letting me listen to any station abroad at the moment.

Regarding foreign radio stations: I’d recommend → Radio Garden. The app/website allows you to access (local!) radio stations from all over the globe, conveniently accessible via a map/globe.