Some Opinions About the Japanese Course
This course needs some more content. Also, it should give its user a way to practice not only typing but writing the characters. (Hiragana & Katakana)
Try LingoDeer at first, it helped me a lot with understanding a lot of the grammar.
Also, last year Duo started with a tree 2.0 after a lot of negative input from different users, a month ago they announced that they are in the testing phase. So they are working on the course to improve it.
You can learn kana on Memrise or Tinycards but I agree that the course is not good at teaching kana and kanji. Don't forget to write them down you'll be used to use them and it will be easier to remember them.
I think the course is a good starting point and you can get to a JLPT N5 level but if you want to go further, beyond what the course teaches you, you'll have to use different materials.
Yep it will be easier if you know Chinese, but generally when you know all the radicals (214) learning kanji become much easier.
Well on Youtube you have plenty of channels like JapanesePod, Japanese ammo with Misa, Sambonjuku, Nihongonomori. If you have some money, books like Genki or Minna no Nihongo are pretty good.
There are also podcasts in Japanese on Itunes, you just have to change the country you are in to Japan. For a better experience in reading, don't forget to install Yomichan or Rikai-kun/chan (depending on the web browser you are using) these add-ons will show you what the words/ kanji mean while hovering over them.
Also for a more personal experience you can make your own deck of vocab/ sentences/ kanji by using Anki and websites like Japaneseverbconjugator, ejje weblio (which is in Japanese), Yahoo Jisho, Kotobank and Jisho.org.
To complete this list you can also use The Japanese grammar guide by Tae Kim so you'll learn more grammar points with examples.
I bought the Practice Makes Perfect Kana book to help with my writing. There are other books you could get to help with it Jame Hesig's Remembering the Kana is a good system to use and Japanese From Zero's Kana From Zero could also be a good starting point. I am using the Pimsleur CD's to reduce my accent and practice intonation, while using Duolingo. This is just stage one in learning Japanese for me though. I think it will take a lot more than this course to become functional.
There is an app called “Japanese” with a blue icon of the あ that I use to learn to write hirigana and katakana. It’s not free but it was only about $8 USD. It’s designed to teach the syllabaries. Although I agree character writing would be a nice addition to the course.
That was the first thing I noticed. I'm almost reaching 5 stars in Hiragana 1 and I don't know how to write it hahaha just know the simbols and the meaning. Need to start writing in paper.. Duolingo could teach writing it on the smartphone, thats not so complicated..
Try Lingodeer if you can afford it. It teaches you how to write hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Duo sucks at non-Latin alphabets because it doesn't teach you how to write other writing systems, a feature that is severely lacking here.