the app teaches symbols and chinese, but how do I know what it is in english?
You don't, you gotta learn those through trial and error. I do wish they'd teach it from the get-go but alas, no such thing - you don't learn how to write Chinese either.
I really recommend using HelloChinese, its interface is straight ripped out of Duolingo's, which makes it better for Duolingo users, and also contains exercises to teach you how to write Chinese characters as well as what they mean.
That's one of the deficiencies of the course. Hoping they can improve it over time.
You could try LingoDeer. Otherwise, learning the pinyin is very important (that’s how you type on a keyboard)
If you get Chinese keyboard and a dictionary app then you can type the words that way
The above extension on Chrome Desktop will highlight definitions for single words and phrases. It only works on desktop and there's certain exercises where it behaves poorly or fails to trigger like when characters goes grey after successful matches. There are similar extensions but this one supports text to speech which is very helpful.
ALSO MAKE SURE TO SET: Popup delay: 1ms
The default is 0ms which causes the extension to not trigger on some systems.
I have the exact same problem. I have no clue of what it is I’m learning in chinese.
Note that this should only be used with individual words, and even then results should be taken with a grain of salt. Though to be fair, Google Translate often gets the basic idea of the sentence across even if the grammar becomes wonky.
It teaches you the pronunciation first, and the meaning in later exercises. A lot of people seem displeased by that approach but I think it works well for me. Leaning characters, their meaning and their pronunciation at the same time would be harder.