Characters need to be accompanied by sound, pinyin, and meaning always!
I understand that sound issues can be a little more complicated, but during those times when all the input I have is the character, sound, and pinyin, with the meaning totally glossed over, it is much harder to learn.
There are so many different ways they could implement it...in the green "congrats" box, in the hover-over hints, an additional place somewhere on the streen, they could even make it be turned on and off with a slider.
The fact that they didn't do this before even launching the course (and ESPECIALLY) that they haven't done it yet, I think to me shows that they either don't really care and aren't committed to bringing this course up to the level of the other courses, or that they lack the resources or competence to do it. Either way, I find it very sad, pathetic even.
I stopped using the Chinese course after working about halfway through it. It's nowhere near the level of the established courses. An established course, I was getting some decent conversational ability and listening comprehension by halfway through.
Chinese is a shadow. It's presence in the sorry state it's in, and its "graduation from Beta" I think is a PR failure...it makes Duolingo look bad. It's embarrassingly bad...and it looks worse and worse the more months that go by without them fixing any of the deep deficiencies in it.
This is why I no longer use Duolingo. I used to like it, used to be impressed with it.
What are all those staff members getting paid for now anyway though?
An issue is that not all characters really have a secure meaning of their own. Words have meanings. Words get written with more-or-less appropriate characters.
That said, using a pop-up dictionary browser extension such as Zhongwen helps to fill in pinyin and meaning for any character you mouse over, and I find it super helpful and always turn it on when I do my lessons.