Memrise VS Duolingo

In my opinion it’s like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both great, but they accomplish different goals. Duolingo is more of a general language learning site with a nice learning curve that everyone can enjoy, whereas Memrise is mostly vocabulary.

They work bast hand-in-hand in my experience. Both use different methods (gradual progression for Duolingo and spaced repetition for Memrise). But If I were to choose, I’d say Memrise is slightly better because Duolingo has a finite number of predetermined courses while Memrise/Decks has literally infinite possibilities (in terms of vocabulary) if you’re willing to allocate some time into making your own course.

So bottom line : Duo - great and very beginner-friendly. Memrise - a step beyond that.


Well said, thanks for the reply :grin:

For the company created stuff, I definitely prefer Duolingo over memrise for the content itself (duolingo goes much deeper into my chosen language), but Memrise has better sound recording for their stuff whereas duolingo’s is kind of robotic sounding and can sometimes bug out.

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I have just given up learning with Duolingo. I wanted to learn Czech with it, but found it confusing instead of helpful. Probably it depends of the language you learn, but in that Czech course the correction of mistake did not work properly. Czech orthography and grammar is far from easy, so it would have been important for me to have my mistakes noticed, but again and again, it told me words were completely correct, but they were wrong. They not even marked them as a “typo”, nor do they show the correct solution again.
And the concept itself is not what I need, either. It kills my motivation to have to learn 100 times again and again the same small sentence that does not even have any use in real life (“The frog drinks the milk”, etc). But that is just my personal opinion. I think Duolingo can be really useful to people who do not learn a foreign language so easily. But personally I like Memrise a lot more.
What finally drove me completely away from Duolingo, was their recent decision to remove their clubs. Clubs really seemed a very charming and unique feature to me, being able to communicate with other members in your target language. Some people had become friends for years and as Duolingo does not allow posting personal data, many lost contact then. They removed it in a such a cruel way all of a sudden without suggesting or offering alternatives, it made me shudder. There was even a petition of more than 2000 people who wanted clubs to be saved and Duolingo did not care in the least…Really, I don’t want to support such a company…


I have been using both daily over the last ~1.5 years. I don’t think there’s a way of comparing them. Instead they very much compliment each other in my opinion.

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Duolingo enforces the knowledge of English while studying, because there are few courses for non-English speakers, and this is a huge drawback.

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I find Duolinguo not only useless but also absolutely counterproductive with languages with different alphabets. Because I don’t think such a system is the place to learn an alphabet, and it’s also taught horribly (at least in the case of Korean) but you still need to do those levels to progress with the course.
For other things I find it…a bit useful but nothing special. Useful for beginners to introduce them to the language, kinda.

Memrise only does one thing, teach you vocabulary, it never pretended to be a complete learning tool (and it teaches more than just languages too) and it teaches vocabulary decently, apart from the bugs. Especially because thanks to user made courses you have infinite potential of how much vocabulary you can learn with it.


And lately they had implemented a lot of nice club games. Even though my club was dead I liked doing those, since they pushed you to think. Clearly they like ruining themselves.


I beg to differ. Yes, Duo doesn’t teach you other writing systems, but I don’t see how their app would be able to do that. Nevertheless, once you’re able to read stuff in whatever writing system you prefer to work on, Duo is IMHO very good to get a feel for phrases and basic to somewhat advanced (say A1 to A2) knowledge of a language. This may not be so easy with Asian systems but with i. e. Russian it was feasible. I learned the Cyrillic alphabet here on Memrise, the took a 10 finger typing course on the Web, then started working o Russian itself on Memrise and Duo. Haven’t gotten too far yet, but I do think that was the right (or at least a good) approach.

As I said, I don’t think they should at all, they should outright skip it. But sadly they do. If they didn’t I would have no problem.
In the case on Korean, since as I mentioned that’s the only one I did, you have to go through many alphabet levels, you can’t just skip to the actually useful stuff, and those levels are not only useless but also misleading.
They should just let you learn the writing system/alphabet by yourself, which everybody does anyway, and start directly with sentences.

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Interesting, they don’t do that in their Russian course - there, you dive right in!


Keep in mind, I only had a couple weeks with the app, but Memrise did more harm than good when I got into a proper Russian course. There’s vocabulary at the beginning that you just can’t use in everyday life.

And I get the greetings and such that you will use in nearly all your Russian conversations is longer, but there are a lot of shorter Russian words that could be used for just getting people used to speaking/reading the language.

I also wish it gave an overview of how the sounds change if certain letters. That was covered super early in my Russian class and was pretty fundamental to getting me up and running in speech.

It’s also frustrating as heck not to have a testing option to see where you should start in a language (like duolingo has). I already knew Cyrillic, so the beginning lessons were just painfully dull.

Because of that last bit especially, I prefer duolingo. But in general, there was never a moment in class where I felt like it was a barrier to progress as opposed to Memrise.

Oh interesting, I wish it was like that with Korean too! I wonder why the difference!

You don’t necessarily have to do official courses though, you can go directly into community ones and with those it’s easier to identify what you’re getting.
For example, if I have trouble remembering irregular verbs I do a course for irregular verbs. I remember in Swedish doing one for plurals. Then there are courses by field, courses by level, courses with the most popular words and so on. It’s more use-choice.
And you can ignore words/sentences you think are no use for you (there’s an actual ignore button), and preview what a course contains before starting it, to see if it’s useful for you or not, with the officla courses as well.

And I’m sounding like I hate Duolinguo which is not the case, but I just want to add that the level testing is not always to be trusted. I tried to do the one for English out of curiosity and it put me at the start of the course. I’m pretty convinced my English is not that bad.


That’s probably related to the fact that most of all Duo courses (maybe even all of them?) have been created by the community. So the extent and quality of a course very much depends on who did it and how.

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It’s hard to know what those things are, however, when you’re new to a language. The words not appropriate for most conversations for instance, that wasn’t obvious until my teacher was like “woa, don’t use that with people who haven’t told you it’s fine.”

The sounds I can see as an oversight. I often hear people say one character = one sound in Russian, but that’s not the case (but the rules are actually nice and intuitive).

As for skipping, that’s the problem with the early Russian lessons. It’s all mixed together in a way that makes it rather time consuming to fix. Like, there’s not just a block of lessons about the alphabet, it’s mixed in with words (some of which aren’t appropriate for the reasons mentioned above). It is a good point, however, about the language testing. I can see that being an issue.

I guess maybe if there could just be an “I already know the Cyrillic alphabet” option for all the languages that use it. Then the Cyrillic part can be shortened to a quick review to pick up any differences there might be.

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@ lweny Depends on what you want to compare.
This is what I find on the surface of it. In their own courses, Duo assumes that their users have enough intelligence to work certain things out; Memrise is the reverse and spoon feeds wholesale.

As far as the app is concerned, Memrise has bugs by the bucketful, some new, some old, some old solved ones which have been brought back, and etc etc. Duo practically has none.

Duo also has something which can be useful - with each entry, there is a possibility for the user to go directly to a discussion of that entry.


My question is similar with a nuance - I also want to learn verb conjugation and not just vocabulary. Which system is better at that and where is that functionality?

Within Memrise, it seems to depend on which language you’re learning. Some have grammar components available, and others don’t, even for premium.

Duolinguo has levels dedicated to grammar, and on the web version you also have a grammar explaination for each level.
Memrise is very good if you want to memorize something irregular. For example, in Dutch I couldn’t manage to learn irregular verbs at the imperfect, I found a user created course about them and I have been able to learn them perfectly quickly.
I think I can say that in general the rule of thumb is that Memrise is about memorizing stuff (as the name says) while Duolinguo is more about understand how stuff works (which is why they make nonsense sentences).
But honestly, you’ll never learn grammar well from just apps.