When comparing Memrise vs Pimsleur, the Slant community recommends Memrise for most people. In the question“What are the best sites for learning foreign languages?” Memrise is ranked 2nd while Pimsleur is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose Memrise is:
Memrise uses "mems" to increase your vocabulary, which are a way to connect a word to its meaning. A common example is associating a word with an image. Mnemonics are another one they use to help you remember new words. For example, "le parcours" (route or course) could be remembered with the mem "People who do parkour pick their own route".
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Pro Helps grow your vocabulary quickly
Memrise uses "mems" to increase your vocabulary, which are a way to connect a word to its meaning.
A common example is associating a word with an image.
Mnemonics are another one they use to help you remember new words. For example,
"le parcours" (route or course) could be remembered with the mem "People who do parkour pick their own route".
Pro Free account without a time limit
The Basic account is totally free (has no time limit) and is very generous.
An upgrade (with more features) is available for 9 USD / month.
Pro Huge vocabulary
The courses can teach you a very large vocabulary (for example, the first level Spanish course has 1705 words).
Pro Easy to use
You will understand quickly what you should do, and you will begin to learn in less than a minute.
Pro Foreign keyboard on screen when necessary
This saves you from having to copy/paste characters or worry about your keyboard settings.
Pro Android app can be used offline
You can download courses to use offline with the Android app. Great for when you're traveling.
Pro It makes you write the words
If you choose this option, writing is a very efficient way of memorization.
Pro Learn from natives
Official courses have videos of natives, recorded recently, to help you along.
Pro Awesome community made courses
Pro Courses available using Tim Ferriss' method
Pro Principle of anticipation
Rather than simple listen-and-repeat, you also have to translate phrases and answer questions in the target language during the lessons.
Pro Learn while you commute
Pimsleur uses daily 30-minute audio lessons. You can probably fit this in while you're driving to work.
Pro Very effective for beginners
Pimsleur is based on proven memory science, it's not perfect, but it is very effective. Intermediate learners may not get as much out of it.
Pro Graduated interval recall
Spaced repetition in and between lessons are timed for maximum recall. This also means you can't skip days between lessons, or work ahead. Each level takes one month.
Pro Teaches pronunciation well
Uses the backchaining technique with native speakers.
Con Doesn't teach much grammar
Memrise is more focused on increasing your vocabulary, so has very little on grammar and sentence structure.
Con Typos and other mistakes in target languages
There is no guarantee that the word you just learned is the correct spelling, because there are so many errors throughout many of the user-made courses.
Con No context
Con Lack of uniformity
It is driven by community, that can be good, but quality isn't always the same and it misses some uniformity.
Con No grammar
Con Not really effective
Con Some useful functions like pinning your active courses were removed
It is hard to have an organized dashboard if you have more courses, which is most likely to happen, as starting them is the only way to bookmark them for later.
Con Lack of diversity in some courses
Some courses will have a very poor diversity for vocabulary lessons. For example, a Russian reading lesson, will repeat the 5 same people names for 8 to 10 minutes. It can be annoying, or demotivating.
Con Low level and mistakes in the official courses
Memorization of a phrasebook is not a good system for many learners.
Con The search function is broken
It is very hard to find most courses, many user-made jewels are hidden at the bottom of the pile and are quite impossible to find without knowing precise details.
Con No way to rate courses in the official or the community made ones
Con Not funny
Con The staff doesn't communicate well with the userbase
Explanations of changes, responses to feedback by large groups of users, implementation of new stuff based on user's needs and not against them, all that could use improvement.
Con The app is too easy
Con Rhythm is too slow
Con No writing practice
Pimsleur is an audio-only course. This can be easier for beginners learning languages that don't use the Latin alphabet, but for serious language learners, it's a gap they'll have to fill using something else.
Con Limited vocabulary
It teaches hundreds of words. A great start, but not enough to achieve the thousands required for fluency, even with all three levels. Pimsleur deliberately focuses on the most common words of the target language for maximum recall.
All the CDs for one language cost nearly a thousand dollars. The .mp3's are about half that. Your local library may carry the CDs, those that don't may be able to get them via inter-library loan (ask your librarian). You can also find them used and re-sell them for nearly as much (depending on how long you want to wait), after you finish. Be certain to get the same edition for all levels.
Con Too slow-paced and repetitive for some learners
If you learn quickly, you may find that the 30 minute lessons covering only a small handful of vocabulary move too slowly for you.