Are éléphante and éléphant homophones?
I keep getting marked wrong for using the wrong gender of elephant--should I submit my answers as correct or listen more closely?
I believe that éléphante ends with a hard consonant "t" sound while éléphant does not. The same goes for other similar nouns (e.g. 'canadien' and 'canadienne'), it's a subtle difference.
I would not call the difference subtle, neither for "éléphant"/"éléphante", nor for "candadien"/"canadienne". It could be, that the speaker does not pronounce the difference well and therefore it is difficult to detect it.
Generally the last consonant on a French word is silent or it is sort of given to the next word to be pronounced withit if that word begins with a vowel or silent h. However if there is an e on the end of a word then you pronounce the consonant before it. The e itself does not get pronounced except in some accents.
Most of the questions where it is difficult to make out the sound of gender and number and Duo marks you incorrect have signals contained in the article or adjective that can be heard.
I live in the southwest of France and the pronunciation is often quite different to the Parisian version, especially with regard to end of word stresses.
In a sentence such as "l'éléphant et l'éléphante" there is (essentially) no difference in pronunciation, but this is a special case. As others have already explained, usually the 't' is pronounced only in "éléphante", but in my example the word following "éléphant" begins with a vowel and so the final "t" is pronounced.
According to my big fat dictionary (Harrap's) éléphant is used for both male and female elephants
this is an important difference. French people love making the last letter silent so in éléphante you pronounce the t but don't pronounce the e, while in éléphant you don't hear a t. This might look like just a simple detail but in the french language it is something what separates the beginners from the full-fledged speakers.