HiNative Review:Useful, but not worth paying for

Updated: June 24, 2022
Fact-Check & Editorial Responsibility: Kris Broholm

HiNative claims to connect language learners with native speakers through active Q&A communities. But does it live up to this claim? We find out in this HiNative review.

Our Verdict

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At first glance, HiNative appears to be an engaging community of language students looking for answers about their target languages.

However, the free version of the app does not provide enough features or support to work effectively, and the premium version is too expensive to justify buying. You’d be better off using websites and platforms like Reddit or Stack Exchange to search for your answers.

TL;DR HiNative Review

Here’s a quick summary, if you’ve only got a second to read this HiNative Review.

PROS

  • Quick responses if you're target language is more popular. 
  • Free version available. 
  • You can get help with your pronunciation from native speakers (but only on premium). 
  • Ask questions about the country and culture of your target language, not only the language itself. 
  • HiNative currently supports over 110 languages. 

CONS

  • It’s not unusual for questions to go unanswered. 
  • No private message option to help you meet new people and practice conversations with natives. 
  • Some of the smaller languages do not have as much support or a community behind them. 

What is HiNative?

HiNative is a language learning platform that aims to connect language learners to native speakers. Essentially, it’s an active forum where language learners can submit questions to native speakers in exchange for answering questions about their mother tongue.

How Do You Get Started on HiNative? 

Getting started on HiNative is easy. Simply download the app onto your mobile device, and create an account. It’s available on both Apple and Android.

Once you’ve created an account, spend a few minutes filling out your profile; you’ll need to provide your native language, target language and your ability levels. You can also add a few of your hobbies and interests so HiNative can personalise what you see to your profile.

What Does HiNative Look Like?

HiNative is a simple app with basic functions that are easy for anyone to learn. The layout is very intuitive too and follows the pattern of other language learning apps on the market. 

At the bottom of the main screen you have a few different sections that you can access: Home, Search, Ask, Notifications and Profile

  • Search. Before you post your question you can search to see if it has been answered previously. Questions are organised by language as well as topic which makes your search even easier. 
  • Ask. This is where you can post your questions to native speakers of your target language. The questions can be on anything relating to the language, or the country of origin of the language.
  • Notifications. Every time someone interacts with your post, tags you in a comment or likes your reply you’ll be notified in the notification centre. 
  • Profile. Your profile is your personal space where you can update any information. This part of the page also tells other users which languages you are learning and how many points you have scored while posting questions, or answering questions. You can also see how many questions you’ve asked and how many you’ve answered. 

How Does HiNative Work? 

HiNative is very simple to use and its main features revolve around asking and answering questions.

Asking a Question

When you're ready to ask a question, you start by selecting the question tab where you will see several templates and suggestions on how to phrase a question. By selecting the templates you help others to understand what kind of question you're asking and the app knows how to categorise it too. 

Questions about grammar or vocabulary: 

  • How do you say this?
  • Does this sound natural?
  • Please show me an example sentence with….
  • What does this mean? 
  • What is the difference?

Questions about pronunciation: 

  • Please show me how to pronounce this?
  • How is my pronunciation? 

Freestyle questions: 

  • Ask about a country or region
  • Ask something else. 

After you post your question you'll need to wait for a reply. With popular languages like French, Japanese or even Russian, you should get a reply fairly quickly. It's with the less-popular languages that HiNative falls short. It's not unusual for questions about some of the seldom-studied languages to go completely unanswered. Which makes HiNative almost completely useless for some language students.

Answering a Question

Answering a question on HiNative is very straightforward. As soon as you open the app, you’ll see a list of questions to answer and you can select the ones you feel confident to reply to. If you’re using the free version, you can only reply with text. Once you become a premium member, you can record audio too, and help fellow learners out with their pronunciation.

Point system

The point system on HiNative isn’t super useful, but it can help you to keep track of your activity in the community. You can score points quickly by answering questions soon after they’ve been posted; if your comment receives a “like”, you’ll also gain extra points. If you contribute with quality answers, you'll get even more points. This system is in place to incentivise users to leave quality answers. However, the points can't yet be redeemed in anyway, which makes us wonder how effective this idea is?

Who is HiNative Best For? 

The great thing about HiNative is that there are little to no restrictions to what languages you can ask questions about. Unfortunately, you do rely on there being native speakers of your target language on the app to receive answers to your questions.

This means languages like French and Spanish are guaranteed a reply, while more obscure languages like Norweigan or Romanian might struggle to find a native to reply. 

Saying that, HiNative does cater to language learners of any level, whether you’re an absolute beginner or very advanced speaker. 

How Much Does HiNative Cost?

If you’re keen to join HiNative, you’ve got two options:

Free Membership 

When you join HiNative, you’ll automatically be given access to all of the basic features, which includes the main question and answer forums as well as the point coring system. It’s not a lot, but it’ll give you a chance to figure out if the app is for you, and whether you want to upgrade to premium.

Premium Subscription

For just under $6/month (or $60/year), you can become a premium member. With this subscription you can record audio answers and ask for pronunciation checks from native speakers. You’ll also receive 10 premium tickets each month which will be put at the top of the priority listings for your target language. This is supposed to increase the chance of your question being answered quickly, and works quite well.  

Is HiNative Premium Worth It? 

HiNative premium offers you extra features to use on the desktop platform or mobile app. While you don’t get tonnes of additional features for signing up, you will get more from HiNative with a premium membership. 

Bookmark Feature 

The free version of HiNative allows you to bookmark questions you’d like to save for later. However, that’s all you can do, which renders this feature completely useless. When you become a premium member, you can view all of your saved bookmarks and even search within them. While this is a great feature to have, we're not convinced it's worth paying for.

Video and Audio Options 

Other features include being able to play other members audio or video answers and give audio and video answers yourself. This comes very useful if you want to ask someone about your pronunciation or if you want to help someone with theirs. 

No Adverts 

A huge plus is that the premium app works without ads, which allows you to fully concentrate on language learning! Ads can get a little overwhelming with the free version of HiNative, so if you’re easily distracted, signing up for premium could be a huge help.

What are the Pros and Cons of HiNative?

Pros 

  • The HiNative community is very active. 
  • Quick responses if you ask about one of the more popular languages.
  • Free version available. 
  • You can get help with your pronunciation. 
  • Ask questions about the country and culture of your target language, not only the language. 
  • HiNative currently supports over 110 languages. 

Cons

  • It’s not unusual for questions to go unanswered. 
  • No private message option to help you meet new people and practice conversations with natives. 
  • Some of the smaller languages do not have as much support or a community behind them. 

Are There Any HiNative Alternatives?

HiNative is quite a unique platform, and there’s nothing that matches the app completely. There are a few, however, that facilitate interactions with native speakers in a community forum type of way.

HiNative vs Tandem 

Tandem is one of the most highly rated language exchange platforms that we’ve reviewed on Actual Fluency. Essentially, it’s a messaging platform that pairs global learners to help each other learn the other’s language through text, audio messages and video calls. Comapred to HiNative, it's a lot easier to get responses from natives, and it's free! But, you will need to be ready to have a full conversation with a native, not just ask on question.  

HiNative vs HelloTalk 

HiNative and HelloTalk are similar in the sense that they connect language learners to native speakers, but they do so in different ways. While HiNative relies on open community forums, HelloTalk allows you to find native speakers and start a private chat with them. Both platforms have their flaws, but HelloTalk seems to be a more effective way to learn a language.

HiNative vs RhinoSpike

RhinoSpike is a very simple audio tool that helps language learners develop both their listening and pronunciation skills. It works like a language exchange: you submit audio recordings in your native language and in return, you can receive an audio recording in the language of your choice. You can also search through a pretty huge database to find recordings that others have already submitted.  

A Round-Up of Our HiNative Review

HiNative has the potential to be an extremely useful app for language learners, but it falls short on its delivery. By relying on native speakers alone to reply to the questions, quality varies in answers and wait times. The audio messaging features are a great addition but come with a hefty price tag attached, especially when you can find similar for free elsewhere.

Unfortunately, HiNative also has more established alternatives like Reddit and Stack Exchange, where you can find a lot of answers to some of the more common questions. HiNative has the potential to grow into something great, but for now, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.

Kris Broholm

Kris is the founder of Actual Fluency, and has spent the last 8 years becoming an expert in language learning software, methods, and techniques.

Originally from Denmark, he now lives in Portugal and speaks 5+ languages at varying levels. His other interests are Wine, Online Marketing, and Travelling.