It seems Dulingo started me out with "Level 2" and i see know option for level one... My question: I feel like I am learning the sounds of the characters but it gives you no definition. I am guessing the meaning go the characters when I get to the end of the lesson. Does this really work? Will it somehow begin making sense with the more words and sounds I learn... Otherwise, I just am seeing characters and hearing their sounds. Anyone else deal with this issue/confusion? Let me know, thanks!
I think they don't tell you the "meanings" because a lot of Chinese characters have a lot of flexibility and they don't mean just one thing. Like, a character can mean one thing by itself but also used in several completely unrelated words. Chinese words often have two or more characters, that's why.
I can see how it would be frustrating to only pair the sound with the word, but the method and reasoning behind it makes sense to me. It's so you will be able to pronounce other words when it's time to learn them, if that makes sense. Think of it as kind of learning the "alphabet" (although Chinese doesn't have one) before you learn the words themselves.
For the most part, I agree with you. However, I think it is really ineffective to learn any alphabet before you learn the words themselves. I have learned some writings systems and it has always proven far far more useful to learn the alphabet with the words.
So, I always start with a few words, their spelling and pronunciation and practice writing them. When I have mastered these words' letters (it is often useful to spell words from my native language out in these letters), I introduce new words with new letters.
I would have had more trouble if I hadn't already learned most of the words from the HSK1 vocabulary list that I found on wohok.com. I use archchinese.com for their excellent dictionary and handwriting practice. So I can read and write what I'm saying... The speaking part is a bit slow for me. I have nobody to talk with except my nephew, who told me about this site, and he doesn't want to talk with me... Where's the love?! [sigh] If I hadn't had the basics, I would have found these lessons a LOT harder.