Kind of Lost
I must have missed something somewhere. I don't know how I got up to lesson 5. It just starts with asking me to translate sentences or words but I don't know how I missed the part where duoLingo teaches me the word first.
Duolingo does put the cart before the horse at times. Just roll with it even if you get it wrong or don't know what to type, because Duo will show you what the answer should have been if you submit the wrong answer.
You can also hover over a word and Duo will show you the German equivalent (or vice versa).
It'll get better. Hang in there. :)
If new words are underlined in yellow, then you should be able to get hints if you click them.
If not, just have a guess and note from the answer what it should have been (if you were wrong).
If this really bothers you, then try the official Tinycards deck beforehand: https://tinycards.duolingo.com/courses/5e8ae5f0-ab02-4b90-837c-74daeb2930b9
I agree with jimnicholson. Try the tiny cards. Duolingo can be hard but it gets easier everyday if you stick with it. When in doubt, go back and review previous lessons. Remember that the more you're around the language the more you'll understand it. I highly suggest listening to kids' songs/stories/shows in German just to get used to it. Here's a link to a German news site, this has some kids' stuff that may help you study. http://www.ard.de/kinder/ARD_Kinder/3275060/index.html
Hope I helped!
You are not expected to get the exercises right the first time. Having said that, I do cram my duolingo vocabulary in advance of each lesson. I can recommend the Memrise app for cramming.
If you see dotted lines under the words, then you click on the words to get their meanings. Otherwise, it could be you have gotten to the stage where you are expected to be able to apply what you have understood to translate some sentences yourself, like a little test. I experienced that, but I cannot remember at what level. I liked the opportunity to try some translations myself without hints.