Idea: Option to skip real-world translations at basic levels?
My children (ages 9 and 10) and I are learning German with Duolingo. I know that this program is geared for adult learners, rather than children, but I wonder whether it would be possible to have a "skip" function for the translation exercises, at least at the basic levels -- not so much because the content isn't appropriate for children as because the exercise is overwhelming and defeating for a young beginner.
Actually, it's kind of overwhelming and defeating for me as an old beginner! I don't know what I gain by peeking at all the words, to have any idea of the sense of the sentence. I persevere with it because it is kind of fun, but my children, who do well in all the other exercises, just wilt when confronted with a completely unfamiliar German sentence, full of vocabulary and grammatical constructions they've never seen before.
Otherwise, we're really enjoying Duolingo. My husband is a fluent German speaker, my oldest daughter is minoring in German in college, and my 9th grader is also taking an intermediate-level German course, so the rest of us are trying to catch up!
If you use the same version of Duolingo as I do, you can skip the translation without any problems. All you need is to pass all the lessons, thus you "learn" the unit and unlock the next one. Translations are intended for "mastering" the unit which is not necessary to go on. If you still want to "master" a unit, try the "Test out" option.
(There are a few versions of Duolingo running simultaneously. I don't know whether translations are mandatory in any of them.)
Judging from what I can see in your tree, you have to pass all the lessons of "Food" to move down the tree. Both "Food" and "Phrases" have to be "learned" to go on to "Masculine and Feminine" and "Plurals". Neither of them has to be "mastered", that means, you can skip the translations.
Love that your whole family is using Duolingo to catch up to the rest of the family :) So, you'll be happy to hear that we're removing real-world translations from the lessons. Some people are already experiencing the new wiki-translations as we test them out. There are some more details in Duolingo Founder, Luis' announcement: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/261407 Look for them soon!
I should add that this program really is a boon to home educators like us. I love that my kids are hearing, speaking, reading, and writing/typing in the language from the beginning -- the approach is very thorough and, in many ways, very age-appropriate for older-elementary kids who are beyond just looking at vocabulary flashcards.
My second child, who's 15, did online German with Deutsch Interaktiv for a year and a half before moving into a second-year college course (my husband's a professor, which has meant that our high-schoolers have access to free classes, another boon!), so I am definitely a believer in the value of interactive online learning. DI is really beyond my younger kids, but this is perfect. I've been talking it up to everyone I know. A lot of homeschoolers are heavily invested in classical languages -- my first child did Latin intensively through high school before taking up German in college -- but for families who want a modern language, Duolingo is a great resource.