Many sounds are softer than their English equivalents. When I was in Germany I had a problem hearing the difference between Schüssel (bowl) and Schlüssel (key) for a while. There are a couple I still have problems with (staat vs stadt and nacht vs nakt) The latter you might hear better as that hard ch sound may exist in your native language. It doesn't in English, so I hear it as a variation of the k sound.
I hate to tell you, but German is spoken just like that and is not considered to be a language that is spoke quickly. It really is somewhat slower than English and substantially slower than something like Spanish, although the study I read about fast spoken languages said that although the it was the second fastest studied after Chinese, it didn't have more information passed in the time period. I assumed that was because Spanish words tend to have more syllables, which may be another reason German seems slow to me. But with all languages you just practice listening and then one day it just begins to fall in place.
It is certainly good to know that German is not spoken quickly. My understanding is Germans really accentuate word endings. I guess Duolingo just goes fast. When given the choice I listen to the slower version. The only problem is the slower version sounds like the language Bot is drunk! When I listen to the slower version, I can picture the words in my mind easily.
Well Duolingo doesn't really speak any faster than normal speech, But listening slow is good practice. But long before you think you are ready for it, try to watch a show or a movie in German. If you get Netflix, any Netflix original will have German and many other languages. If you choose something you have watched in English, and keep listening in German, that flow of sound will both help you to understand and teach you alot about HOW the flow goes.
I agree to some extent. I lived in Bavaria, and people's identities were much more involved in the fact they were Bayerisch than that they were Deutsch. But the same language diversity happens in at least every other European country and probably pretty universally. Except when a country effectively stamps out other languages, that's the natural state. There are only 197 countries in the world, but over 1700 languages, not counting dialects.
Yes Présent tense German translates to either present tense English or present progressive. German does not have progressive tenses. But even many languages which do have a present progressive don't use it as extensively as we do, so that is actually most often the case.
Buch is a neuter word. Das is the neuter nominative definite article in German - the equivalent of "the". The other definite articles in German are der for masculine nouns and die for feminine singular nouns as well as all plural nouns. As I mentioned, these are the "nominative" definite articles which is just a fancy way of saying the way you say the if the noun is the subject of the sentence, but for neuter nouns it is the same for the accusative case - the case of the direct object. The accusative case is only different for masculine verbs. For a masculine direct object, der becomes den. For feminine, neuter and plural definite definite articles are the same. But if you don't know the gender of a noun and you aren't sure which case is being used, you may be confused by the article since some forms are used by different genders for different cases. Plural essentially functions as a fourth gender.
Ein is the indefinite article for masculine and neuter nouns. This is a fancy way of saying it's the German word "a" in the nominative case, and the neuter accusative case. Eine is the feminine and plural indefinite article. In German and many other languages, the word for "a" is the same as the word for "one". Although it's not in English, if you read it the other way it might sound strange, but it would essentially mean the same thing. So if this sentence were Wir lesen ein Buch, you would normally assume it would translate it We read a book, but saying we read one book is the same thing in German.
I think what the OP is getting at is that in English the phrase "We are reading the book" would never be heard. The question is asking for a literal translation, which is cool, but speaking English we would say "We are reading a book". It's a good question to point out the differences in structure of the two languages.
People have such limited imaginations. Of course if we are just talking about what we are doing,we are likely to just say "a" book. But if someone was talking about a particular book or wanted to borrow it you might well say We are reading that book. Believe me, sentences that would actually never be said in English by native speakers are much weirder than this. And this ISN'T a difference between German and English. Germans would also most likely say ein Buch unless referring to a specific book under discussion.
There is no way to determine gender based on the type of thing you are talking about. Zeitung is feminine because it ends in ung. There are even cases of synonyms with different genders. The only way to predict gender really is based on endings (-ung feminine, - chen neuter, etc) Also if you know the word is borrowed from another language it will likely be neuter. Of course the issue there is when the word was borrowed. Older borrowed words like Koffee can be a different gender (der Koffee). Here is a link that provides some information on predicting gender.
If you memorize the ending rules then you only have to memorize the exceptions individually, but essentially you have to just memorize the gender when you learn the word.
That is a slight disadvantage to capitalizing all nouns. In English if you Capitalize Book or God or President it has a special meaning. But Das Buch can be anything from Dick, Jane and Sally (if you are old enough to know what those books are), The Joy of Cooking, the Bible or anything else.
Report it. Always remember that all accepted answers must be manually entered for each question. This means that occasionally a basic, obvious one will be missed. That is especially true with very simple questions where no one is really thinking that multiple transactions will be required.
Absolutely. Report it. But just as a hint, if you don't want to have to go through all this on the next exercise, I would recommend you limit your use of contractions. Don't won't and can't and others using not are totally safe, but once you get to contractions with are and will you already find a lot of exercises where they are missed. And I think should've and would've are almost never accepted, at least they didn't used to be. My goal is never to test Duo, so I avoid ones that I think might cause problems I don't tend to use a lot contractions in writing anyway.
Yes. Duo doesn't care much about either capitalization or punctuation. At one point they marked it wrong if you didn't capitalize a noun in German, but I don't think they do that any more. But at no point do they really care except in the cases where the rules are different between the languages regarding capitalization.
In German you need both the plural definite article (like the) and the plural form of the noun. The plural definite article in German is always "die" regardless of the gender of the noun. The plural of Buch is Bücher. So you have Das Buch- the book Die Bücher - the books
Nouns have several ways of forming plurals so you have to learn them along with the noun, especially at first.
It is either/both. German has no progressive tense so it uses the present tense. English uses progressive tenses almost exclusively for active verbs for present action. I say active verbs because verbs like think, feel, and know are commonly used in the present. But with verbs like work, walk, and read we generally use the progressive. If you are on your way to work and somebody asks how you are getting to work you would say I am walking I am driving or I am taking the bus. But if you are asked how you routinely get to work you would say I walk I drive or I take the bus. This common use of the progressive is unusual even in languages which do have progressive forms like Spanish. English underuses the simple present so most of the time you see the present progressive you would translate to the present. Of course the past tense of the English verb to read is spelled the same although pronounced differently, but I didn't think that was your question.
No. You misunderstood. The languages that do not have a progressive tense give a progressive meaning to the present tense. Wir lesen das book might be understood as either but the context will make it clear. Telling what you are doing now is much more common than making statements about routine actions, so mostly the correct meaning will be We are reading the book. Even in Spanish which as I said does have progressive tenses only uses them to emphasize that the action is ongoing. Normally you use the present in Spanish for the English present progressive.