The more I do this the more I realize that whoever developed it does not have English as their primary language. As a teacher of children and adults, expecting spelling of a foreign language at the beginning is ridiculous (a key should always be available until no longer needed) and frustrating. Also, when I translate something exactly as the answer says as I have just done, yet am told I am incorrect, is quite maddening!
First. Are you aware there are tips and notes (available only on the web version) which introduce the letters and the sounds? They are introduction to the first three skills.
Second. The creators of the course are both native English and Hebrew speakers. This is simply how Duolingo teaches languages. Immersion from day one. Some people love it, while others don't. I belong to the first group and I guess you are in the second group.
There are indeed some glitches that cause the correct answers to be rejected, but that is rare. Most likely you had a mistake you hadn't realized, and it counted it wrong.