Asking questions is an important part of becoming bilingual. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find fluent speakers for unique questions you might have. The HiNative app tries to answer this issue, creating an app to connect with fluent speakers online.
The result? A must-have app for any language learner, and one that rewards both asking and answering questions.
Basics of HiNative
When first using the app, you will be prompted to select what your native language is, as well as any languages that interest you. HiNative offers an impressive amount of language options, with over 100 options, including country-specific language options, such as Spanish in Mexico.
Once you’ve made your selections, you become part of several communities. Each of these communities specifically focus on either of your language selections. By breaking up the community based on language and interests, HiNative allows you to interact with people who are knowledgeable about either your native language or the language that interests you.
In addition to selecting those options, you can go one step further and select countries or regions that you personally know well, and countries and regions that interest you. By doing this, you get your questions answered by locals, and can answer questions that pertain to your own country.
HiNative offers many free features, but there is also a premium version, which allows you to give priority listing to your questions, bookmark important questions you find, remove ads from the app, and more.
After making those selections, you can go to the question hub, where you’ll find a list of question formats, each allowing you to ask focused questions that range from what the difference is between two words to asking for definitions.
The “Does this sound natural” option even allows you to record your sentence for others to hear your exact pronunciations. Users can then provide ratings based on how natural or unnatural your accent and phrasing sounds, and offer advice on how to improve.
After you post a question, you simply wait for answers from the community. Every user has a rank based on how helpful they are with answering questions. Answers from high-ranking members of the community will typically have more merit than answers from level 1 users.
To test how quickly the response would be to a question, I asked how to say “I want bacon for breakfast” in Spanish (Mexican).
Within a short time, I had an assortment of answers. While there was some variation in those answers, I quickly got a good understanding of how to say a sentence in Spanish that I previously didn’t know.
Users earn points for answering questions, and will earn more points by answering questions that have been posted within 5-10 minutes. This way, HiNative gives a great amount of incentive for users to answer questions, instead of leaving them to stagnate.
If the original poster or a fluent speaker finds an answer useful, they can “like” the answer, giving points to the user who answered the question.
This is just one example of how useful the question hub can be. The multiple question formats, intuitive layout, and speedy, accurate responses all make for a positive experience.
Joining the Community
Of course, asking questions is only half the fun of HiNative. From the app’s homepage, you can view questions in your own native language and country, and for languages and countries you’re interested in.
From the homepage, you can interact with the community, answering questions that pertain to your own personal knowledge. Questions can be filtered based on if they’re unanswered, relate to your language of interest, or if the questions contain audio.
The community is friendly and helpful, encouraging a positive environment for asking and answering questions.
Final Impressions of HiNative
Finding a good source for specific questions about a language or country can be difficult on the Internet. It’s even more difficult to ask those questions and get responses from fluent speakers within minutes. HiNative achieves both expertly.
By providing several question formats and rewarding quick, accurate answers, the app creates a community of users. Some might question how reliable these users can be, but those concerns are easily assuaged by the fact that long-time members who contribute quality content are identified by their ranking. Furthermore, the community is self-policing. If an incorrect answer is given, others can come in with the correct answer, which then can be “liked” by users who are fluent in that language.
Overall, HiNative is an easy app that is useful for any language learner who wants to get answers about a language from fluent speakers.