Joining the world’s most exciting language learning app

Some apps are designed to make you have fun. Some make you a better, more efficient human being. Hardly any get the balance right and allow you to do both, which is why I have always admired Memrise.

When I needed to learn an unimaginable amount of German and Russian vocabulary before my final exams, Memrise saved my degree. Then, when I moved to Budapest to try and learn Hungarian, one of Europe’s hardest languages, without Memrise’s patient and expert Spaced Repetition, I probably couldn’t have done it.

So when earlier this year I got the chance to join Memrise full time as their Language Learner in Residence, it was a dream come true. I excitedly signed the contract and started preparing for what was undoubtedly going to be the adventure of a lifetime.

However, in the run up to my start date I still had a lot of unknowns. What is a Language Learner in Residence? What would one do? Was there even a job description?

After a quick search on LinkedIn, I realised that I was possibly the only one in the entire world. That means the position is wide open for me to define, which is both exciting and pretty terrifying in fairly equal measures.

The one thing I did know was that Memrise is not the kind of company that does things conventionally. Whether it’s painting an old London bus and driving it across Europe or Pirate and Chomsky the company cats, life at Memrise was never going to be dull. And my first day did not disappoint.

After my warm greeting by CEO Ed, I was led through Memrise’s shiny new Aldgate offices to meet the people at the heart of Memrise’s most top secret operation: the Language Learning Research Team.

The mission was simple. The team is there to make Memrise the greatest language learning app the world has ever seen. The progress they had already made was staggering.

The team had been hard at work. They had taken complicated notions like fluency and smashed them down into clearly defined numbers and competencies. They were devising ingenious tests to optimise learners’ ability to decode spoken language so they could understand what people were saying to them. And meanwhile they were casually totally revolutionising the way people learn grammar.

I’ve started by sinking my teeth into the ever expanding, ever elusive field of lexicon. How to come up with a syllabus of words that could cover all of the most exciting scenarios language learners would ever find themselves in, while also transforming them into competent and confident speakers of the language?

The team is onto some really great stuff. How great, I couldn’t possibly tell you yet. That’s top secret. But it got me thinking. In all my months of scouring LinkedIn for language jobs, I hadn’t seen anything like what is going on inside Memrise. Why was that?

The fact that Memrise is employing a whole team of linguists to tear up the rule books and discover the real truths about language learning is testament to its commitment to quality. If there’s a better, faster way for more people to learn languages than ever before, rest assured these researchers will find it. And Memrise will be the platform for the whole world to enjoy it.

No doubt the road ahead will be long and challenging. But I am proud to be a part of the world’s most exciting language learning app.