Translation:This place is near my home.
It is actually very easy to know what is being said in Japanese because the particles tell us what everything is doing in the sentence. In this instance the translation has nothing to do with Duolingo's "way of translating". は after ここ tells us that This place is the starting point for the sentence - not my house. ちかい describes ここ, telling us that this place is near - some other place. から follows いえ - from my house and fills in the final part of information in the sentence telling us the place that ここ is near. The particles and prepositions tell us everything we need to know about how to translate this sentence and where everything fits.
この 所 = This place = ここ 'This' is not an adequate translation for ここ. 'This" could be referring to anything - not necessarily a place. ここ means here or this place - it is not implied - that is the meaning of ここ. It is like これ which means this one/thing because it can be used independently and doesn't need to modify a noun. We do not need context to understand ここ, all we need to understand - what you need to understand is its meaning.
Just tell me, from both answers before i see you take the English sentence "My house is near this place" and assume that "my house" is the topic here. But is it? English does not even have a topic concept, since it is not a topic oriented language. So how can the English tell you what the topic is? Maybe you're already talking about "this place" and one says, "My house is near this place." Still sure in this context that in the English sentence, "my house" is the topic?
In the Japanese, it's 家から which means "from my house/from home", so that might be an explanation. But still then, the word order might be "From my house, this place is near" or "This place is near (from) my house". You can also make "From my house" the topic, 家からは…
You are correct - "this place" is indeed the topic of the sentence, and thus should act as the subject of the English sentence.
However, "... is near from my home" isn't what I would consider a well-formed English sentence. (But my native language is American English; perhaps this is an acceptable version in other English dialects.)
"this place" is indeed the topic of the sentence, and thus should act as the subject of the English sentence.
Sorry, but this doesn't follow. English isn't a topic-prominent language. The new information (i.e. what's not the topic in Japanese) can perfectly well be the subject of an English sentence.
- What's near here?
- My house is near here. ("here" would be the topic in Japanese; "my house" is the new information and hence not the topic in Japanese)
Because that's not natural English and also it is overstating - overkill in English. The Japanese might say from my house but translating it that way in English is unnatural. Here's another example in Japanese you might say 私 と いっしょに 来ませんか - - literally - won't you come together with me? BUT in English we would translate that Japanese sentence as Won't you come with me? Translating 'together' in the English is unnecessary because that is already conveyed through 'with me' - it is overstating in English because it is like unnecessarily translating the same thing twice. In the English it is unnatural. In the Japanese it is not unnatural - phrases like 私と いっしょに can add clarification and sometimes emphasis. Now in regards to the original sentence we don't need to translate から in the English because 'near' already conveys the Japanese meaning - but から IS helpful in making it clear to us which place is near which ie. は indicates that ここ - this place is the focus of the sentence (where we start the English sentence) while から tells us which place ここ is near - いえから tells us it's near いえ - (my) house.
Rena - ここ does not mean this and it doesn't modify nouns - it means this place or here and is a stand alone word. You are are confusing it with この with means this and must modify a noun. There's no connection between ここ and いえ, that is they don't go together. ここ is not modifying/describing いえhere. ここ is indicating a location that is near the house.