Speaking Exercises are Broken
I'm from Australia, and every time I try and do one of the spoken translation questions, it doesn't understand me. The technology either needs to be thrown out or fixed. Secondly what's the point of them anyway? It would be better to have it the other way around, where you translate the sentence into French from English and speak it.
Maybe depending on what part of the AU you are from, it may just be hard for the program to recognize your speech. I'm currently living here from the USA and sometimes the accents can be very hard to hear, or maybe you are speaking too fast, I find it works better when I slowly say the phrase.
As for it being better to translate the sentence from English to French I think that would be quite hard to implement as many phrases can be said a multitude of ways, unless they had a way to accept every possible answer showing you what they want you to say seems to work best.
It doesn't recognize me either! Maybe you should stop practicing the speaking part on DuoLingo by turning it off in the Settings.
I'm doing the French for English people course and my mother tongue is Spanish. Thus, my pronunciation is less than perfect.
I have realized, nevertheless, that it seems more demanding while you are ascending levels. In the more basic lesson it was more tolerant. In advanced lesson, it's less tolerant.
When I have had issues in this area, it had been connection problems.