Rosetta Stone or Memrise?


I’m an old member here but just reset my account because I haven’t practiced in so long. I really need to start over.

A few years ago when I was studying it properly, I was using this and Rosetta stone, but since then I have heard of Memrise becoming more popular, so I’m unsure which to go back to.

Is Memrise better than RS? Or perhaps Duolingo has stepped up? (Doubt it)

Thanks :slight_smile:

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Im using lingodeer which is free and does a great job for most of N5 level stuff and I think they are working on higher level stuff too.
Memrise I use custom decks for genki and couple others. I have not followed their Japanese course really.
I have heard Rosetta stone really sucks with japanese. The way ive seen it work is they just try to teach you stuff like a child and dont expain any grammar topics and you just have to figure it out. The reviews ive seen is people say they have some ability to speak/listen at a low level but they cant read or write at all.
For how expensive it is and the system I would not suggest it for Japanese, but I have heard good things about their Spanish courses.
Japanese is its own thing and i think Rosetta stone just shoved Japanese into their system which was not made to deal with kanji and etc.


Everything I’ve heard about Rosetta Stone regarding Japanese suggests that a rock is more of an effective learning resource than Rosetta Stone. I don’t know how true this is though.

Memrise is fine, although it is all multiple choice, which isn’t a very reliable testing method. Duolingo can be alright for beginner sentence practice, but it’s not very good for learning.

I’m assuming this is all for vocab practice, since none of these will help you much with grammar.


Memrise isn’t multiple choice if you use it on the PC. With the decks I was going through, I had to actually write out the vocabulary word for my answer to be considered correct. It can be quite effective, in that regard.

As the others have said, I haven’t really heard anything positive about Rosetta Stone. That said, Memrise is primarily used for vocabulary, rather than grammar. Do you have other sources you want to use for grammar? Genki is a popular book, but there are also websites that do N5 and N4 grammar for free.


Oh that’s true yeh, I always forget the pc version is different.

The first time I heard about Rosetta was from Koichi’s video

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Oh my gosh, don’t use either of those. Check out Satori Reader, you’ll learn way more and it’s so much more fun and interesting.


It would be good to learn vocab but yes actually I think I’m looking for grammar more. I do have Genki (haven’t got a chance to use it yet, the kanji overwhelms me) but I am interested to know which are these websites that do it for free?

Also, thanks guys. I am glad I didn’t waste my time on Rosetta Stone, I did have a feeling it was massively outdated and not very helpful. Now that I recall the extreme extent they went to do the whole ‘immersion’ thing, it actually quite annoys me. At some points, it would have just saved a lot of time to have it properly explained.

It is suggested (by tofugu who made wanikani) that you wait until your at least level 10 in wanikani or better level 20 before you start learning grammar and such. By level 20 you will likely know all the kanji needed for beginners resources. So you will be able to focus on the grammar itself rather then spend time learning kanji.

This is just a suggestion though, the first few chapters of genki is almost all hiragana, you could learn the simple basics like です and etc.


Consider checking out for grammar. It’s a grammar SRS.

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I absolutely recommend Human Japanese for grammar. It’s by the same team as Satori Reader - I also second that recommendation. HJ is scaffolded so it’s easy to learn. There’s beginner and intermediate available, and they’re both $10 each and worth way more in my opinion.


I really like lingodeer, especially that it let’s you choose the writing format. It has short, basic grammar points. I stuck to kanji with no furigana and changed formats if I was confused on something. I could input the sentances from my mobile keyboard as well.
I used it more as a refresher though, I’ve had some basic Japanese language classes.


Seconding Human Japanese. Extremely accessible, concise, pleasant to read, and it takes the time to explain は and が in a sensible fashion. You’ll get some cultural tidbits here and there too. The only nitpicks I have with it is that it has a tendency to flood you with new vocab (I tend to just pick out the vocab I think will be particularly useful and leave the rest for later so I can keep focusing on grammar), and the first 2/3 of the first book is written almost entirely in kana with no option for kanji, which is a little bit frustrating for me.

I haven’t tried Satori Reader by the same group yet, but it looks like it’ll be a good stepping stone up from NHK once that becomes easy for me.


Please do not use Rosetta Stone. I used it many years ago (and tried it again about a year ago to see if it has changed - it hasn’t) and was worse off for having done so. When I came to Tokyo to start Japanese language school, I took the school’s placement test and ended up in the lowest class. This was after successfully passing all three Rosetta Stone modules. In fact, I had to unlearn an awful lot of incorrect things that Rosetta Stone taught.


Oh my God you guys, thank you so much. This is incredible. I didn’t expect to learn about so many great resources such as, Human Japanese, Satori Reader AND lingodeer. I’ve had a quick look at all of them and I can already see how useful and just way more practical they are. I’m so glad I didn’t go back to RS lol… Thank you so much!!

Also thank you for the advice that I probably don’t need to learn grammar until level 10/20… this is really good actually because then I will know a lot of kanji which can help me with the grammar exercises. I don’t want to be put off by some really helpful resources just because they use kanji, so it’s good that I don’t have to start those immediately and for the moment can focus on Kanji itself.



I did it may years ago as well. I considered checking it out again for fun but it feels like a big step backwards. The resources available today are just incomparable. At the time, it was better than doing nothing. If one didn’t have access to credit courses, it was still a cheaper alternative and offered flexibility for a part-time learner. I always thought it was more geared towards people who want to travel and just want basics (not a path toward being bilingual).

Everything Koichi said way true. It helped my reading but the listening was very bad. However, it did test pronunciation through voice recognition; probably more appreciative for languages with difficult phonetics (not Japanese). Today that technology is no big deal. However, I still come across individuals with developed Japanese and mispronounce basics. Still, there are better places to put your money:


Definitely agree with Human Japanese as a great, gentle intro to grammar. I’ve been peppering a chapter here and there into my studies and really like the down-to-earth explanations.

I like the Duolingo English-to-Japanese course. It’s not perfect and I wouldn’t recommend it as your sole learning source, but I like the option to turn off their word pickboxes. That way, you’re forced to type in the answer yourself, which I find to be quite good practice after you’ve already picked up your grammar lessons from elsewhere.

Also, a book I recently picked up that I really liked is “Unlocking Japanese: Making Japanese as simple as it really is.” The author also has a site where she has videos and articles discussing various grammar points. I recommend it once you’ve dug into some grammar basics, but there were some insights in that book that completely changed the way I approach and understand the language.

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