How to Get the Most Out of Memrise

5547851770_3598506559_b__1425323930_67.249.244.222
 

Do you use Memrise? It’s not an especially difficult system to take advantage of but there are many features that I feel the average user tends to overlook.

To help you squeeze the most benefit out of your time using Memrise I’ve outlined a few ways that you can use the program’s tools and special features to improve your language learning experience.

If you’re a language learning enthusiast; unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple years you’ve undoubtedly heard of and most likely used Memrise by now. For those who haven’t Memrise is a mnemonic learning system that implements user created content to create mems that reinforce vocabulary by associating words with a picture, phrase, or any other memory device you like. It’s a highly effective platform for acquiring new vocabulary at a relatively rapid rate.

Memrise also offers courses in over 500 different languages and more are being created every day.

But even if you’ve used Memrise you may not be taking full advantage of its large and increasing number of features designed to help you optimize your language learning.

  

Goal Setting

This cool new feature is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Memrise very recently rolled out a new standard (non-premium) feature that allows users to set daily learning goals. For each course you may be taking you can now select one of three different goal difficulties. Hopefully in the future more options or customization will be available but for now users may choose between 1,500 pt, 6,000pt or 20,000pt daily goals. 1,500pts is the equivalent of a single “round” on the browser version of Memrise, so meeting this goal is a little too easy in my opinion.

To make the most of this feature use at least the medium (6,000pt) goal on each of the courses you’re actively taking. This usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete but is of significant enough size for you to make meaningful progress.

Setting goals is a very important part of any language learning project and you can read all about setting and maintaining goals in this article. You can use this Memrise feature to help plot an actionable course to your larger goals.

Premium Features

In the Summer of 2014 Memrise rolled out its paid premium version and along with it came a host of new analytic and progress tracking features. For a vastly more detailed overview of these features check out my original review of Memrise premium here but suffice it to say for now that I think the upgrade is well worth the price for the feedback and control these extra tools can offer.

The tools you need to pay attention to the most to optimize your Memrise use:

  • Time of day tool – This chart shows you the time of day that you are most active on Memrise and how successful and/or accurate you were at those times. This tool shows you exactly how long you took to answer questions at various times. It’s helpful for knowing what it is you’re doing in your life that could be impacting your performance. You can run all sorts of tests using this feature including things like analyzing your results after a 20 minute run, after eating a bigger breakfast or whether or not your morning coffee significantly impacts your ability to learn.
  • Performance monitor – Another chart that tracks the rate at which your long-term memory acquires new words and compares it with the rate at which you lose words.

The great thing about Memrise premium – and the fact that I think justifies the cost of the upgrade over the standard free product is the impact that these analytics can have not only on your performance on Memrise itself, but in collecting data and perfecting your learning routine throughout the other tools you use as well. The information you can discover about optimizing your study for maximum efficiency can easily be applied to time spent doing other things like Pimsleur, reading a textbook or sitting through a language class.

Difficult Words 

Memrise is great about pinpointing the areas in which you are struggling the most. The program collects the time spent answering each question and the words that you struggle to answer correctly to create a short flashcard deck of the words it feels you most need help with.

Use this tool as much as possible! These are the words that will return to your “needs watering” queue the most often and deserve the most attention.

Be careful with the ignore tool!

A simultaneously fantastic and nefarious feature – Memrise allows users to “ignore” certain words they feel they are comfortable with. These words are manually selected and ignored and then will no longer show up during learning sessions. This is a great way to boost your time efficiency on Memrise as well as a great way to count the rough number of words you have added to your repertoire.

The problem with the ignore tool is that you’d be surprised at what you actually can forget. I recommend against using it at all. It’s nice to work with a shorter list and nobody wants to feel like they’re repeating the same old crap over and over again, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter how well you think you know a simple word, it never hurts to go over it again and again and again.

Tedious, I know, and I wish it weren’t so, but just because I can count to ten in French doesn’t mean my brain automatically snaps to the numbers without any time or thought at all.  The only way to reach fluency is going to be to train your brain to analyze and reproduce words instantly and without significant hesitation. It really doesn’t matter how easy you think the words you don’t need to study are, chances are they aren’t second nature to you yet and you don’t want to be left tongue-tied when you find yourself actually carrying on a conversation with another person.

Ignore words at your own risk.

Mobile Learning

Memrise is of course available on smartphones and tablets via its free app. If you own any sort of mobile device the Memrise app is an absolute must.

Unfortunately but understandably the app contains far fewer features than the full version of the program. However this hardly stops it from being an incredibly useful secondary resource. The Memrise app allows you to take your language learning project anywhere. Due to the simplicity of these miniaturized learning sessions you can fit language learning in anywhere. From bus stops to coffee breaks to public transportation; the flexibility that mobile learning can offer is, in my opinion, one of the keys to success in foreign languages today.

Sadly, the app is also not currently synced to all other features yet.  The new daily points goals are not yet fulfilled via the app and you cannot access analytics data from the app itself – though you can always visit the browser version on your device.

The app also lacks a timer and features drastically fewer multiple choice answers than the desktop version making it considerably easier. Despite this though it is still worth the 30 seconds required to download it to your phone or tablet.

Don’t forget to participate in the community!

Each and every course has its own private forum where you can communicate with others taking the same course as you to discuss the course itself or just connect with another learner. This is also the primary channel between you and a course’s creator should you notice any issues. Because Memrise only offers a platform upon which all content is user created it is up to the community to police the courses and notify those responsible for them of any problems.

Choosing a mem to help you remember a given word or phrase is the essence of Memrise, but did you know that you will remember a difficult word even better if you create your own? It’s easy as heck to make a Memrise mem – all you have to do is upload a picture and caption it with information about how your image helps you to be reminded of the word you’re looking for.

Speed review

A newer feature that I’m editing in; speed review is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. This premium feature (more reason to upgrade) is a ton of fun and great for squeezing more study time into the free nooks and crannies of your day.

Speed review gives you a limited time to select the right word (all of which are multiple choice). It won’t yield as many points as traditional review but it will keep the vocab in your mind pretty effectively.

It counts as a review session meaning that the words that need watering are considered “watered”, so it’s a good way to squeeze in some extra practice while keeping your stuff in order.

The only way in which this particular feature could be better is if the speed allotted actually decreased as you progressed. I’ve seen other apps, such as Mindsnacks that do this a little bit better. Still, it’s a new feature, we can expect updates and changes and it’s still worth your time!

Conclusion

There’s a reason Memrise keeps adding all sorts of new features all the time; you’re supposed to be using them. But it can also be easy to become overwhelmed by all of the bells and whistles causing many people to overlook the incredible functionality of this otherwise very simple program.

Follow my advice, explore the opportunities presented, both by the standard Memrise version as well as premium, and try to see how you can apply Memrise data to other language learning strategies and you will hopefully start to see why this is one of my most preferred language learning tools.

To follow me on Memrise, go here!

**Updated July 2016 to reflect Speed Review feature**

Languages Around the Globe will always be free. However there are expenses with keeping a website up and running and devoting time and energy to provide you with more, high quality content. LATG is supported by Patreon. Click below to become a patron and earn some cool stuff for your generosity. We’re currently working to make the website advertisement free for your convenience!Become an LATG Patron

  • Thanks for the useful tips, Brian! I’ve been using Memrise to learn Swedish as part of my 21-day language challenge but I didn’t even know it had all these functions. Going to try them out today!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      21 day challenge? Sounds rough! Memrise is a good supplement to any learning project, but it isn’t enough on it’s own. What else are you using?

      • It is quite rough indeed 🙂 Trying to see how much I can learn in 21 days while working and ‘having a life’. You’re right Memrise can’t be a stand-alone language course but it’s useful. I’ve been listening to a podcast as well and looking up ad hoc topics.

  • Hi Brian! Thank you for the information about the Premium features. I’ve only been using the free stuff. If I really need to go hardcore on performance tracking, I think the Premium features will be a big help. I am very interested in the caffeine effect part 🙂

  • pir

    [The ignore feature] “I recommend against using it at all.”

    Haha. Yes. That was pretty much my own decision right away. And it’s not just that one might fool oneself regarding what words are easy, and that continued repetition helps things to become second nature long after one knows a word — I can definitely count to ten in French forwards and backwards in my sleep — but it’s actually nice to have the occasional easy word pop up when you’re working on 3 courses with 6000 points each every day. It gives a little extra psychological boost to really GET a word now and then.