iPhone app Memrise is a fresh take on language learning

Screenshots of the Memrise app from the Apple App Store
The Memrise app has a clean, simple and colorful interface (Image credit: Apple App Store / Memrise App)

The Memrise app logo from the Apple App Store

(Image credit: Apple App Store / Memrise)

iPhone - Free (In-App Purchases)

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We all have different ways of learning. Aside from whether you're a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner, some of us prefer gentle nudging, others like being told what to do and plenty of us want to make our own schedule. That's why I'm not surprised when I hear a language learning app that's really popular doesn't gel with someone. It's not you, it's just that your learning style isn't quite matching up.

So if you've tried some of the most popular language learning apps already – I like Duolingo and Babbel – and you still don't feel like anything is sticking or the experience isn't as fun as it should be, then I highly recommend taking a look at Memrise for the iPhone and the iPad.

When you first log into Memrise it might look very similar to rival language apps, but there are several key ways in which it offers a refreshing take on immersing yourself in a new language – all features that are seriously tempting me away from the app I've been using for years...

What makes Memrise language learning so fun?

The reason I love Memrise is it feels less restrictive than other apps. You get to pick the conversations you want to master that are relevant to why you're learning the language and choose the level you want to start at. And the good news is that if you've been learning a language on another app for years and feel very invested, there's a feature that lets you set your level and import your streak from other apps. 

There's also a big focus on immersing learners in the language, too. You can listen to native speakers – there are more than 30,000 conversations to watch – which helps you get used to their accents and tempo. Then you can try to practice speaking yourself with Memrise's AI tutor, MemBot, so that you’re confident when you need to speak in real-life – something I often struggle with as I get so self conscious. 

There's also a selection of videos that you can watch. For example, I'm learning Spanish and Memrise suggested I watch the music video for Bad Bunny's Moscow Mule, telling me I'll already know the majority of the vocabulary in the song. It's just the tempo of Spanish speakers I'm still not up to speed with!

The app also launched some new lessons linked to Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated movies. There are clips from Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest for those learning French and German, and Spanish speakers learning English can access The Color Purple, Elemental and Nyad. These are more examples of the way Memrise doesn't just teach you lessons that feel disconnected from real-life, but aims to marry learning with living, experiencing and having fun. 

The good news is there's a free version of Memrise, which gives you the basics and lessons in 23 languages, along with video clips, tests and personalized reviews. There's also a premium version (available for $18.99/£18.99 monthly, $69.99/£69.99 annually and $99.49/£99.49 for a lifetime) that unlocks even more features and strips any ads from the app.


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Becca Caddy

Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.