Memrise is a free online flashcard site that acts like a game. New words are seeds that grow into plants in a virtual garden. Plants grow and flourish if pass quizzes, expanding and growing your garden. You also earn points through these quizzes that rank you against other Memrise users worldwide.
- Completely free of charge
- Great website design
- Feels more like a game than studying.
- Lots of content created by the community
- Too reliant on user-generated content
Memrise is the child of Ed Cooke, a memory expert who has claimed the title of Grand Master of Memory for his incredible ability to memorize anything from words in foreign languages to the exact sequence of six decks of playing cards. The idea is that if this guy can memorize a thousand-digit number in an hour, he can teach you how to learn a language pretty quickly too, right?
Well, kind of.
Memrise definitely does a lot of things to help you remember new words. You can add notes to individual words to include mnemonics or other handy tidbits. It quizzes you on words in lots of ways: multiple choice, English-to-Japanese, and Japanese-to-English. And most importantly, Memrise is structured more like a game than a typical flashcard program.
Being able to compete with yourself and others, gather stats, and earn badges and the like is great motivation to get you to keep coming back and learning new words and kanji. Memrise will even email you a reminder if you forget to take your quizzes your virtual garden begins to wilt.
The community aspect of Memrise seems like a great selling point too. You can use the vocab lists that other people have created and utilize the mnemonics that other people have come up with.
But there are definitely some downsides to Memrise as well. Because it’s so community-driven and because Japanese isn’t a “featured” language on Memrise, you have to rely upon vocab lists that other community members have created. While that sounds fine, it means that the vocab lists are often inconsistent and redundant. Of course, you can always create your own lists with the vocab you want in the style you want, but it seems kind of redundant with so many other people on Memrise.
But nonetheless, I would recommend trying out Memrise. It’s a great site and best of all, it’s free!