Color me confused!
I thought I understood how this works and I like the way you use multiple modalities BUT I am now totally confused and when I went to find instructions I realized there are none. I finished the basics of level 1 and then I saw this thing "real world translations." When I clicked on it and saw the sentences to be translated I couldn't believe my eyes. How in the world is someone with such little knowledge of the language supposed to translate those things? What am I missing?
You can do only the lessons and spare the translations if you find it too difficult, notice that new lessons have been unlocked. It is also important to know that the words have their translation if you roll over them. The translations are designed to correspond to your knowledge, this doesn't happens always but thats the intention.
Duolingo is about exposure and immersion-as much as that is possible in this format. Also, keep in mind that these translations have been done by others before you. The ultimate translation is the one that by consensus and expert inspection has been deemed final. At least that is what I surmise.