Translation:I have been learning Chinese for a year, I'm still a beginner.
In case it isn't clear, the Chinese translates literally to "I learn Chinese— learned one year as of now. Still am a beginner."
Two "了" characters in a clause means "up until now" per https://eastasiastudent.net/china/mandarin/four-kinds-le/#verb-%E4%BA%86-and-sentence-%E4%BA%86-together.
The site below says 了...了 is for something that starts in the past and continues in the present. In English, "up until now" can often imply a change of behavior and not a continuation.
I have been a good student up until now.
Up until now, I was a meat eater.
I don't think "up until now" is the best way to express an ongoing activity.
I don't like the way Duolingo puts more than one character on a tile especially in this question. Why is one tile 我学 the next one is just 中 and then comes 文学 . This just doesn't make sense. I wish there was an option in settings to make each tile only one character to make it somewhat more of a challenge. Sometimes I get the right tile by only recognising one character out of three!
Yes. Chinese, along with Japanese, Korean, and Arabic, is classified as a very hard language for English-speakers to learn. For comparison, moderately hard languages include Vietnamese, Hindi, Russian, Greek, and Finnish; while easy languages include Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, and German.
Yeah, I honestly think this assessment is due to Westerner's intimidation of the characters. Personally, I've had a WAYYY easier time learning Chinese than Spanish. I get so tangled up in verb tenses, reflexive verbs, irregular verbs etc. in Spanish. Chinese feels easy in comparison.
For me Spanish is way way easier than Chinese, though my Duolingo level is a good bit higher for Chinese. In Chinese I can kinda start a basic conversation with a local but can't get far. In Spanish I can talk for hours on random topics with locals, though I stil make lots of mistakes and get lost watching a movie, reading a book, or among a group of locals talking fast. I can't even read a page of a kid's book in Chinese yet.
I've dabbled in Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, and Thai in my travels, but not Burmese. Khmer is hardest for reading and writing and pronunciation is tricky but there's no tones. It's fun to learn but there's few resources. Thai writing is a bit less tricky to read and write, except how the tones are encoded in the spelling. It does has tones and I find it really fun to learn. It feels easier than Chinese but I'm having trouble getting it as good as my Chinese. Lao is more straightforward to read and write than Thai but there's almost no resources to help learn the tones properly. Vietnamese is the hardest to learn to pronounce for me out of all of them. Luckily the writing is the easiest, but not 100% straightforward. Many locals are really good at teaching it though, which helps a lot.
Note that "学了一年了" gives specific information about the person's current state with learning Chinese which also tells us about when it started, but the accepted translation doesn't make that clear enough.
A more accurate translation would be: "I have been learning Chinese for a year _(already|up until now). I'm still a beginner"
Interesting, I never think the Chinese grammar is so inflexible like that. For me, I don't see tense hint between 學一年、學一年了、學了一年、學了一年了. Well, it emphasizes different part, I reckon. 學一年了 sounds you're talking the period you're learning so far. 學了一年 sounds saying "learning" this matter.
So in conclusion, I reckon Chinese tense is not so important, well, not the point we focus. Still should find the keyword. In this sentence, the keyword is 菜鳥. I'm still a rookie (definitely wrong translation as "beginner"), showing you're still learning. That's why using "have been learing" instead of "have learnt".
When a Chinese verb is done for a certain amount of time, the time or duration goes after the verb.
However, when an object/noun (i.e. 中文) is used after the verb, the verb must be repeated a second time before using the first 了. The verb needs to be directly next to the 了.
我学了一年了 = I've been learning for one year.
我学中文学了一年了 - I've been learning Chinese for one year.
我学中文了一年了 X - wrong