Again, this system is not perfect. Try and consider a mistake could have happened. I don't know about you, JordanKrisa, but I'm catching flaws left and right.
I know you had to do the food section before you even got to this sooo....!
...NOPE! I had only seen noix in other lessons after my post 2 weeks ago. Thanks tho.
I think they're still adjusting the learning tree, so in due time, with our help, these types of issues should be worked out.
How do I know what the verb noun order should be? Is "une grosse noix" preffered to "une noix grosse", or does it even make a difference?
Your question is not about verb-noun, but about adjective-noun as it seems.
The rule is that to a massive majority, French adjectives are placed after the noun. Exceptions: please read this: http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/adjectives_4.htm
I'm not sure what order you are doing your lessons but if you aren't skipping any and doing them in sequence then you would have been exposed to noix as having two meanings, nut and walnut.
Personally, I always have difficulty with it because it isn't given very often and sounds very indistinct to my ear when rendered by the robot. I'm commenting on this particular instance because, again, I couldn't figure for the life of me what the robot was saying. Not because I haven't heard it before though.
Another lost heart. (sigh)
I find it difficult to understand the audio, the 'L' sounded like an 'N' to me. Maybe if you could switch between a man and woman speaking or have native speakers recorded it would be easier..
What is a good way to tell the difference between the way noix is pronounced and noir is pronounced?
Go to Google Translate and practice listening to the words repeatedly one after the other.
I'm not sure if it will work for you but then I'm more interested in getting correct answer than spending a lot of time on a word that is fairly infrequent.
As for how to tell them apart by other means just do the following.
Look for a modifier. noix will always have a modifier of some kind. Noir is the modifier for some noun or pronoun.
English has many homonyms which are words that when pronounced correctly sound identical but have very different meaning. We rapidly identify the intended meaning by use of context. Do the same thing with French as much as possible.
Over time you will eventually be able to distinguish sounds that you couldn't identify before. Of course I don't know if you will ever be able to distinguish the Duo robot rendition of noix and noir. I have yet to isolate Duo's take on the words. But like I said I don't much care as long as I can figure it out otherwise.