Translation:Rawad and George
If your goal is to write formally in Arabic, then Nunation is very important. Otherwise, if you're aiming for colloquial Arabic (which what I would say this course teaches) don't pay too much attention to that. I can tell you, not even native speakers get that right most of the time. What's important is that the message is conveyed, heck, if you go to any news website, you won't even find a single nunation to the words.
That is the inflection, this article may help explain
Since simply saying "Rawad and George" would call for the Nominative Case, ـٌ (un) is used. What I don't like is this course's lack of consistency. Sometimes the Tanwins are in the audio, sometimes they aren't, and they're never shown in the written form(not that we'd see them anyway.)
The first "a" in Rawad, with "fatHa", sounds like "ah", the "a" in father. The second "a" in Rawad, with "alif", sounds like "e" in "bed". Two different sounds here are both being transcribed with the letter "a". I'm just trying to find out why. The speaker is saying "Rawed".
I've noticed with the letters I've been practicing so far, that both "alif" and "fatHa" are pronounced "ah" after the consonant "raa", but are pronounced like the "a" in "hat" after other letters. I'm wondering if there would be a vowel marking on "alif", that we have not learned yet, that would cause the "alif" to be pronounced with the English short "e" sound.
An Arabic text book I bought says that in the eastern regions of the Arab world, alif sounds similar to "father" but farther west, especially in North Africa, it sounds different, even approximating the "e" in "bet".
Alif can be a consonant or vowel and has, in both cases, several possible pronunciations (in standard Arabic, not only across dialects). There's a helpful list of the different pronunciations here: http://arabicquick.com/learn-the-arabic-letter-alif/.
It's just like when we were kids learning the English alphabet. We learn the sounds of the letters, then the sounds that are made when letters are put together to form letter combinations and short words. For instance, we'll learn the sounds that "a, b, c" make. Then we might learn that b + a = the ba sound and that c + a = the ca sound. Next, we might learn the letter "t" and its sound, and what the combination of b + a + t and c + a + t sound like. Next, we might learn the sounds of "s" and "h" and how they combine with "a" and "t" to make the sounds "ta" and "ha" and then how they combine to produce the sounds of "sat" and "hat".
That's what the developers of the Arabic course are doing here with the Arabic letters. First we're taught the sounds of a few letters. Then we're taught how the combination of two letters, then three letters sound when combined. Later, we learn words that can be made with the letters we've been taught. When we've learned enough letters to make multiple words, simple sentences are taught.
Throughout all the lessons, new letters are taught until we learn the whole alphabet and increase our vocabulary along the way.
We're only taught what the letters look like when they are in different positions in words by seeing them used in words. We never see their shapes, here, without them actually being in words. You'll have to google "the Arabic alphabet" to see what the letters look like at the beginning, middle, and end of words without them actually being in a word.
Add on: If you are having difficulty learning the letters, do all the levels in each lesson until you reach Level 5 before you move on to the next lesson.
Duolingo starts moving on to words rather quickly, I agree (not only in the Arabic course; I had the same difficulty with other languages on Duo). The Android app Memrise spends more time on learning single letters, so I switched to that until I figured out enough letters and then returned to Duo. Hope that works for you too!
not in everyday speaking. But many news broadcasters do speak in this way (it is about 50/50) depends on how versed they are in the language and quality of presenter. Like AlJazeera, AlArabiya, MBC and BBC Arabic news broadcasters always would use nunation for instance. Some local city broadcast would not.