With the sound turned off on the written questions there are only written words. But you can still do the exercise. Not to mention that the woman's voice is actually a machine voice, the result of spoken words spliced together on a computer to make phrases and sentences. Think of it as a computer voice. There is no one sitting there waiting for a Duo student needing to hear some words. Some sound clips sound remarkably like they carry a notion of assigned gender because of their tone. Other sound clips barely sound human. But you aren't required to guess the gender implied by the tones used in the sound clip.
It's your job to work out the gender from the context. Since French routinely defaults to masculine when the context isn't clear, so does Duo. Sometimes they accept feminine when there is no clear indication of gender and sometimes they don't.
There still are these homophones that we need to treat separately. If the written sentence is feminine, we cannot enter a masculine variant as correct.
The process so far is that whenever we find a homophone (je suis perdu/je suis perdue), we add it to a list and disable the dictation exercise.
Once developers have uploaded the list into the system, a special filter will clear the alternative answer as correct, and then we can enable these sentences again.
I was sure that Duo was working on the problem since I have seen an improvement over time. Since some questions come with hundreds of possible combinations of correct translations it is not a simple matter to simply rectify all possible, apparent errors.
Not to mention, experience is the best teacher. This is especially true when it comes to learning a foreign language. A student who is surprised to see an error in his answer and goes into the comments to then find out he was right all along has had a learning experience whether he believes it or not. The more frustration he feels the more powerful the learning experience was.
Generally real learning, as opposed to simply memorizing something, requires some degree of frustration.
This was helpful to me: http://www.french-linguistics.co.uk/grammar/avoir_or_etre.shtml
I see what you mean, but I would look at this as the past participle being used as an adjective rather than an 'avoir' verb changing to an 'etre' verb. You'll notice that the english changes, too. No matter, I think we understand what you're saying independent of what it's called :)
Here are a couple of examples of verbs that normally take "avoir" as their auxiliary verb, but switch to "être" when there is no direct object, depending on context:
Il a fermé le robinet
He turned off the faucet
Les banques sont fermées le dimanche.
Banks are closed on Sunday.
Il les a vendus
He sold them
La ceinture est vendue
The belt is sold
Verb "perdre" can be used with être or avoir, but the meaning is different:
je suis perdu(e) = I am lost = I can't find my way or I don't understand what is being said
j'ai perdu la partie = I have lost the game = I could have won, but I have not make enough points
j'ai perdu mon portefeuille = I lost my wallet
Perhaps someone could clarify how best to say "I am lost/we are lost" if you are lost while travelling through France. An older conversational French book of mine had the phrase "Nous nous sommes égarés", and I used this phrase frequently when seeking directions while exploring France over ten years ago. The French people were very kind in guiding us on our way...however, a French person later told me that my égaré phrase would be used more to indicate one had gone too far, i.e., been inappropriate! Said it would have been accepted in the context of my conversation, but much better to say "Nous sommes perdus". I had to laugh, thinking I had wandered through France teĺling everyone we were inappropriate! Next time I will use "Nous sommes perdus"!
I'm not sure if you're a native english speaker. I am, but in spite of that, I'm not sure of the strict grammatical explanation here for the use of 'lost'. I think it's just the past participle 'lost' being used as an adjective. In that case, the tense of the verb can be whatever the situation requires. On a purely functional level, a person who has lost his way in a forest might very well feel and say, 'I am lost'. After the forest rangers have found him, he might tell his friends the next day that 'He was lost in the forest'. Hope this helps.
Recently I was told (by a french speaker) that je suis perdue means I am confused and that when stopping to tell someone that you are lost (before asking directions), the correct expression would be je me suis perdu - that to say je suis perdu would be interpreted as I'm nuts/dazed etc. However, all the online translators and Duolingo say Je suis perdu is correct. Are there native speakers who can comment on this as I want to ensure I use the correct expression?
Online translators and Duolingo are right, because even though you would tend to say "je me suis perdu(e)", you will be perfectly understood if you don't use the reflexive form, also because with "je" it is pretty obvious that you are not saying anything else than the fact that you got lost.
"Il est perdu" can mean that his condition is critical and he will die soon.
Being nuts/dazed rarely translates to "être perdu(e)".
"Je suis perdu(e)" is also used when you mentally can't follow (understand) some reasoning/explanation/conversation and then feel lost. Then it is also synonymous with "I am confused/I don't understand".