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Ich muss Englisch lernen = I must/have to learn English
Ich musste Englisch lernen = I had to learn English
I just got corrected (I see my mistake). However, the correction given is "I'd to learn German." This is completely unnatural English in any dialect I know of, so much so that it took me - a born anglophone and an English teacher - a while to figure out what it meant and what it was trying to say. The contraction "I'd" for "I had" is only ever used when "had" functions as an auxilliary of past tense (i.e. pluperfect "I'd done" or pluperfect progressive "I'd been doing", etc.); as far as I know, it is never used for the modal expression of obligation "I had to do" in any major dialect, it must be stated completely (similarly, it is extremely old-fashioned to use it for possion - "I'd an apple"; modern anglophone only say it this way for antique effect). This translation should be removed, as it is extremely misleading and confusing, which does not help the learner to identify his or her mistake.
I know this is annoying, but we'll probably have to live with, at least for now. The correction you saw is not actually something we added as a solution. It's generated automatically. Unfortunately, the system can't tell between the different functions of "had". Whenever you see a weird correction involving a contraction, it's probably because of that.
This is what it looks like inside the Incubator:
As for the past tense appearing too early, this should no longer happen in the new tree version, which we're going to launch soon.
'Musste' indeed is past tense of 'muss', you can check it out here - http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-german-verb-m%C3%BCssen.html
Translate it with the structure "I have English (to learn=infinitive) (had to=past participle of "must")" Duo hasn't set you up for a perfect tense with modal auxiliary yet, and there are several steps to put in place. Learn perfect tense first, then learn the irregular past participles that modal verb make.
No, it couldn't. "There is no past tense, but had to is used for saying that something was necessary in the past: We had to show our passports." See http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/must for more details. It was a past tense once but hasn't been for quite some time.