The verb is conjugated in the plural. Ze eet is singular (she eats), ze eten is plural (they eat) http://www.verbix.com/webverbix/go.php?D1=24&T1=eten&H1=124
I understand very well that "ze" (NL) is used for "she" and "they" (EN). And when they are written down, I can very easily distinguish between "ze eet" and "ze eten". However, I have heard that native speakers of Dutch tend to omit "n" if it's at the end of the word. When I listen to this, all I hear is "Ze eet rijst". Does anyone else have this problem? Do "Ze eet rijst" and "Ze eten rijst" sound the same when spoken quickly by a native?
They definitely changed up both the male and female speakers about two months ago. I certainly appreciate hearing fresh accents (coming from the Northeast it's sometimes a chore to listen and respond to people in the Midwest!!), but the new woman's accent is definitely MUCH thicker! On the other hand, you'd think I'd be used to someone dropping end-of-word consonants like is done around Boston!!
A lot of languages do this. German uses "sie" for "she" and "they" too. Italian uses "sono" for "I am" and "they are". English uses "you" for "single you" and "plural you", which I'm sure many learners find annoying.
Languages often just develop in unexpected ways. There was no meeting where Dutch speakers collectively decided to "use ze for both they and she".
Yes, it can. I'd even suggest you do so. That English has acquired a second present tense in the past doesn't help your Dutch in any way, so pretend there's only simple present. Sometimes the course doesn't include that solution. If that is so, report that the simple present should be accepted as well.