Mandarin Blueprint Reviews: Memrise


The majority of our students have used, or at least heard of, It is a language learning site that utilizes both Spaced-Repetition Software (SRS) and mnemonic devices (which they call “mems”) to aid the learning process. Needless to say, here at Mandarin Blueprint we’re a big fan of both of those learning techniques.

 The Memrise homepage

The Memrise homepage

 The "mem" making section of the site.

The "mem" making section of the site.

Aesthetically, the site is very well designed and clearly has a team of very competent programmers that are working very hard to keep it a user-friendly experience. We reckon that if you go to Memrise and try out a few lessons you’ll find it quite enjoyable to use. 

The main focus of Memrise is accumulating vocabulary. When learning a new word, you are prompted to create some kind of mnemonic device to help you remember the word’s meaning and pronunciation:


or use one already created by another user:


You can also choose an image you’ve saved from google images that connects to the meaning of the word. This is a great addition as it adds another layer of connection to the word ad personalizes it for you. Mnemonic devices are very effective, because the human brain is naturally good at visual memory and 3D spacial imaging, but not so good at remembering text. If I told you to memorize this paragraph of text, it would not be nearly as easy as asking you to remember 3 images. 

After you learn a word, it enters an SRS sequence of reviews, which means that you see it more if you are struggling to remember it, and less if you clearly have already grasped its meaning. This mnemonic and SRS combination is very powerful, as it takes advantage of how our mind naturally operates. 


Disadvantage: Because Memrise is so well designed and also quite enjoyable to use, it is easy to think that its all you need to use to learn a language. While we would recommend Memrise to anyone and consider it to be a great tool for beginners, learning vocabulary only is not the most effective way to acquire if you don’t see the words you are learning in context. As Khatzumoto says “You don’t know a person because you know their name, and you don’t know a word because you know its definition.” Memrise does what they do better than anyone, just remember that reading and listening to content in context is the eventual goal. Use Memrise on your way to that goal.

Conclusion: Memrise is great, 5 Stars. Use it well, especially as a beginner to start getting familiar with the language. Remember that its function is not to teach you an entire language, but to help you with vocabulary on the way and you’ll be golden.