Learning phrases/building sentences

Hi folks, I’m new to using Memrise. I read in the Google Play reviews that this platform is good for learning to build sentences in a foreign language. But having looked at a few courses, it seems to me, based on all I’ve seen, what you’re really doing is learning wordlists, albeit of varying difficulty. I have a flashcard app on my tablet – can someone explain what extra I’d be gaining by subscribing to Memrise?

I have to say I really like the web platform interface.


Other than Duolingo which teaches mostly sentences, most courses on Memrise contain mostly single words resp. vocabulary, despite the fact that sentences are also possible on Memrise. If you take the official Memrise courses, for instance, then you’ll usually learn a bunch of words, then these words are taken to form sentences - an approach that I like very much.

As for what you get for subscribing to Memrise: you get a bunch of benefits, such as difficult words.
Take a look at this article by Memrise:

Other than that I’d suggest you do a search for memrise subscription benefits.


Many thanks, Olaf, that’s useful. I had a look at the features. Sadly Grammar and Learn with Locals aren’t available for my source language (Dutch).

May I ask your opinion on the Pronunication feature? Shame it’s not available via the website, as I find PC sound quality and recording much better quality than tablet/phone apps and I wonder why devs prefer apps in this respect to the PC. How would you say the app quality is re. recording your voice and comparing it with natives?

I’ve used Duolingo a bit and it does help with sentence building but many of the sentences they come up with are nonsense and not useful in real world contexts. I have yet to find that “magic bullet” software or app that really teaches serious grammar and sentence building, as well as the other necessary elements of language learning.


You could give Clozemaster a go, if you haven’t already tried it. You may find it’s worth adding to your ‘armoury’.


I gave up on it at least a year or two ago and never tried again, so I might be off. But when I tried using it, I found it to be quite clumsy and next to unusable. But that’s just my personal impression!

I don’t think it is necessary to only have real-world sentences. They do help of course, but I do think that it’s also useful to learn with sentences that actually do not have any connection to the “real world” - simply because you can’t rely on your instinct or any previously gained knowledge and need to thoroughly understand (linguistically!) what is happening.

But you’re right - I haven’t found anything really useful for learning grammar either. Sadly.

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Hi everyone!


what you’re really doing is learning wordlists

Learning the most frequent words and short phases is a good method for get started in a foreign language.
You will need it to understand a little when you read. You can try LinqQ. The free version works fine.
I use both platforms at the same time.
You usually have an audio and it is possible to change the speed.

what extra I’d be gaining by subscribing to Memrise?

Use Memrise for a month or more. Premium features are sometimes offered for free to try them out. If you like them, subscribe.

Pronunication feature?

You can try speech to text online or with the cell phone keyboard mic. Speak and if the text is fine, you are right. If not, try again.
Dutch pronunciation does not have a standard. For my pronunciation of English, my target language, I’ve created a model, a mix of the most frequent pronunciations, and I use it.

I have yet to find that “magic bullet” software

They’re not a magic device. Just your aptitude and attitude and a lot of hours, thousands of hours.
You will need a lot of theoretical knowledges (aptitude) and your commitment.
It doesn’t matter the way you achieve it.
A good approach for me is, first a lot of vocabulary and learning to read. Then, a lot of reading and listening. And only after many hours, two thousand or more, 4 or 5 years later, writing and eventually speaking.


Other than Duolingo

I used Duolingo for one year and a half. One hour a day, sometimes more.
Duolingo is a Swiss knife: a lot of features but…
I completed the Portuguese from Spanish course, for example. All the lessons. And my progress was very poor.
And many lessons of English and other languages.
Duolingo is a good game but very slowly for learning languages: cartoons, a lot of popups, etc.

it’s also useful to learn with sentences that actually do not have any connection to the “real world” - simply because you can’t rely on your instinct or any previously gained knowledge and need to thoroughly understand (linguistically!) what is happening.

You don’t need, in my opinion, understand every word, every phrase exactly, nor the grammar. Memrise and Duolingo use translation. This is only useful for basic learning. Intermediate level needs immersion. You have to use only the target language.
You can read in the Duolingo blog https://blog.duolingo.com/how-silly-sentences-can-help-you-learn/ an explanation.
To learn a language you need to think not about the form, but about the message.
Nobody uses this kind of phases with a young child. Context is important when learning the basic of a language. Duolingo is wrong, in my opinion.

Remarks: I used Deepl to fix a few errors. I’m learning English, I understand very well, but my writing is not very good yet. Apologies.


Many thanks, Olaf, for your thoughts. I can see your point of view on the real world vs. nonsense scenarios.

For grammar, it seems to me no app or software can beat “old-fashioned” self-study language courses with CDs or MP3s, or even better, the guidance of an expert tutor via video chat or similar.

Thank you, Emilio. I will have a look at LinqQ. Your approach is not very different to mine until now: first reading and learning words, finally speaking (though I’ve never been a great speaker). With Dutch I am beyond the learning simple words phase and I also know many more advanced words, so I was wondering about how to train building sentences.

I will keep on with Memrise, anyway, for now while I see how much it helps me.

Thanks again.

Hi everyone!
Hi @limey75!
You’re welcome!

They are many ways to learn a language.
I am bilingual and speak a few languages as well.

My ways were different:

  • I learned my mother tongue, Galician, only by listening and speaking. I can read and write it but was not my way of acquisition.
  • Spanish, my daily language now, was the one I learned in school, high school, even one grade in college and other activities. I usually only used to read it, write it and listen to it, but I spoke it not very often.
  • I learned French for 9 grades at school, but I listened to broadcast and ham radios and I used to read magazines and literature. And I visited France 2 or 3 times. My French is not perfect but I am fluent.
  • Portuguese, very close to my mother tongue, was very easy for me to learn. Usually I only listen to the radio. I don’t speak it perfect but I can communicate easily.
  • I also learned German. I listen for many years to Deutsche Welle. Of course, after a lot of textbooks with audio. I read many literature, simplified and authentic books and magazines. And eventually I attended a face to face conversation class with a native person for a couple of years. I speak German but with difficulties.
  • And now I try to learn English using many resources.

The ways change but you need always two things:

  • Many hours of using the target language.
  • Immersion in that language. The immersion might be real o virtual.
    If you live in the country and you practice it, very nice. But it is not absolutely necessary as you can see before.


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