As some of you know, but others may not, the Memrise approach to language learning is rooted in the need for lots of effective practice. Speaking a new language is in fact only around 20% about actual “learning”, and 80% about getting enough of the right kind of practice: practice understanding and practice speaking.
The Memrise experience that most of you here on this forum are following is really focused on the “Learn” part of the equation. Learning vocabulary is super helpful, but it is not enough to get all the way to understanding and speaking a new language. That’s why we’ve been hard at work over the last couple of years building features within the product that really focus on practice. We call these features “Immerse” and “Communicate”.
Here’s a summary of what these features do:
We’ve carefully curated a video library containing 1000s of engaging YouTube videos and our own videos of native speakers. We’re continually adding new content to this library every week. Our smart tech creates transcripts of each video, identifying all the key words to learn. You can either browse the videos and learn the words you need to know so that you can understand the video you want to watch, or you can begin by learning words, then we’ll recommend you video lessons that feature the words you have learned.
You might have read some of the press coverage surrounding this feature that we call “MemBot”, which lives in our product’s “Communicate” tab. Essentially, last year we built the world’s first “AI language partner” on top of Open AI’s GPT-3 technology. MemBot sets you missions that you complete by having conversations (spoken out loud or in text) in the language you’re learning. For example, in one mission, you role play that you are buying a car and have to persuade the car salesman (played by MemBot) to sell you a car for under $500.
We’ve been gradually testing and rolling out these features over the first part of this year, and now we’re now ready to release them to everyone!
You can “opt in” on mobile to see these new features by going to “settings” and clicking on the “Early Access” toggle, and on web by clicking the profile icon and selecting ‘Switch to Early Access’. “Early Access” is the working name we’ve given to the version of Memrise that has these new features. If you are learning on a mobile app we strongly recommend that you update to the latest version before you do this.
As well as the two new features, if you opt in to “Early Access”, you’ll notice a couple of other changes:
- The course structure has changed.
In the classic Memrise product, “courses” are collections of “levels”, each of which is a list of words or grammar exercises. “Early Access” is designed without “courses”, but instead with word lists that are called “scenarios”. Each scenario is a group of words that can help you master a particular real-life scenario; the words may be the words used in a specific Immerse video, or they may just be a list of words that are useful to learn together. Scenarios are basically the same as “levels” in Classic Memrise. There is a “recommended path”, or scenarios that you can follow, so you always know what to do next. Additionally, you can also modify the recommended path by picking a scenario that catches your interest, or by picking a scenario that will unlock a particular Immerse video. Later, we will also allow you to generate a scenario based on the words that are used in a particular MemBot conversation that you have.
Right now, the scenarios roughly match all of the official course levels 1 to 7 on Memrise Classic, as well as there being several thousand more scenarios that are generated from videos. Over time, these will be expanded further to meet other specific needs, such as study lists for exams. We have created a flexible system for scenario generation that means we can very quickly create wordlists to meet any need or interest.
Because all scenarios are part of the same central system, when you learn a word in one scenario, that word shows as “learned” in every other scenario that uses the same word.
- There is no offline mode
The focus of the product is on practice, and these practice experiences currently rely on cloud-based tools that require an internet connection. So, there is no offline mode yet.
- There are no streaks yet
Streaks on Memrise Classic are for each specific course. So, if you learn on Early Access, it will not count towards your streak on a course on Memrise Classic. We will add streaks into Early Access soon - when we do, you will have one streak for all your activity on Early Access, because there are not multiple separate courses. This will make it easier to maintain your streak.
Right now you can opt in to Early Access. The next step, once we are sure this is all stable and working well, is to migrate all learning on Memrise official courses to this new experience. As noted above, the core of the course content is the same, but there is just much more of it on Early Access, so this should be a great experience for everyone. Community Courses will stay in the Classic experience, because they are not linked in to the Immerse and Communicate experiences.
There is no set timeline to migrate all Memrise official course learning to Early Access - the timeline will depend on how fast we can make the experience work brilliantly for everyone. So do please give feedback to help us make the transition as smooth as possible!
We will update on timings as we go forward.
Will it sync my progress when I Opt In to Early Access?
Absolutely. Your “words learned”, “marked as known”, “difficult words”, and “words to review” are all synced.
When you click to go to Early Access, it will ask you to sync. In Early Access, this will enrol you in all the languages you were learning in official courses on Classic Memrise, and move scenarios to the right state. Completed scenarios can be found in the “practice” area of the Learn tab on web, or you can scroll up on the Learn tab on mobile to find it. We will pin up to 3 scenarios to the ”‘in progress” section of the Learn tab if you’ve learned some of the words in that scenario already.
You might notice a difference in your “words to review” count. This does not mean that you have lost the progress at the individual word level, but in Early Access, you only review words from completed scenarios. We have made some changes to the content of “Levels” from Classic as we’ve moved them to “Scenarios” in Early Access, so you may have learned words on Classic that are in an incomplete scenario on Early Access. That will cause a difference in the “words to review” number. If you click a scenario you will see the details for each word. By completing that scenario, the words will become eligible for review again with the interval you had on Classic.
What does this mean for Community Courses?
Absolutely nothing is changing for Community Courses: they will stay in the current experience. We will be making it easier to switch between the official Memrise content, on what’s currently called Early Access, and the Classic experience which will only contain community content.
Why isn’t there offline mode in Early Access?
We have seen the usage of offline mode rapidly decline over the past few years as mobile data has become so much cheaper, the coverage better and public WiFi much more widespread.
Additionally, as noted above, the core of this new experience are the Immerse and Communicate experiences that rely on cloud services to work.
As such, we haven’t, and won’t, create a full offline mode, but we do plan to add some offline features to Early Access in the future.
What are the timings for the next phases
We don’t have exact timings yet, but will provide further updates as we progress.
Why can’t I see Communicate?
Communicate is currently not available if your source language is Arabic, or if you are learning Mongolian, Icelandic, Slovenian or Yoruba.
Why can’t I see Immerse?
Immerse is currently available in limited languages, currently mostly for English-speaking courses. Within the next two months we will be adding many other source languages.