A common problem is that Duolingo presents snippets of sentences that, in the real world, would be embedded in a conversational context. For example, the phrase in question (i.e., it is not a sentence per se), can make sense is the context has addressed previous epochs. But one needs the context, so that the"ET" signals a response to a previous speaker's reference to another epoch than the present one. Since I could not know that such a response was occurring in the phrase I heard, the "Ay" sound did not suggest "Et" for the obvious reason. Normally a sentence does not begin with "And"/"Et". All that I could think of was the subjunctive of "avoir"--which, of course, did not good. In short, it would be better for Duolingo at the 11-12 level and below to stick with sentence structures as they are conventionally defined. When instead presenting "sentence fragments" of the kind common is spoken but not in writing, Duolingo should alert the student to the fact that a phrase, not a complete sentence, is being presented.
French prepositions do not translate directly or consistently to English. I write "en français," (in French), but my husband is "dans la maison" (in the house). En can sort of mean, "of," as well, as in "une ceinture en cuir" (a leather belt, or more directly, "a belt of leather). Then, I live "à Chicoutimi" ("in Chicoutimi," which is a city, and you always use the preposition "à" with cities), but I live "au Québec," while my in-laws live "en Ontario" (au/en is used for provinces, based on masc/fem - or "en" if it starts with a vowel). Like many things in French, it takes a while to get a feel for which to use in which instances. I'm sure I'll be conversational in French long before I quit screwing up my prepositions!
That cleared a lot up for me Meg, but it brought up a question. Do the names of the provinces, days of the week have their own specific gendre? I ask because my entire first year university French class was unaware of chatte and chienne. And we all had high school French under our belts. High school was in the 70's
Days of the week, months, and seasons are all masculine. Provinces vary, and you just have to learn them "par coeur." I know Québec is masculine, as is Ontario, though you use "en" instead of "au" because it begins with a vowel. Nouveau Brunswick is masculine, while Nouvelle Écosse is feminine. Pretty sure Colombie Brittanique is feminine. (My spelling may be bad, as I'm typing from memory.) The others, I don't remember. And don't hold me to all of this 100%. I'm still learning and making a lot of mistakes, though je suis un cours de français qui est vraiment magnifique here in Québec. I think species of trees, in general, are also masculine. There are some tricks you can learn to more effectively guess gender, but there are always exceptions to the guidelines. I can guess the gender of a given word with about 70% accuracy based on whether the word "looks" masculine or feminine. http://french.about.com/od/grammar/a/genderpatterns.htm
In a French class I took (in Canada) my professor said that with provinces and countries, names ending with an E are (very nearly, with exceptions such as Mexique) always feminine, and any other ending letter denotes masculinity. Obviously, this doesn't go for all nouns, but it's a helpful trick when discussing places.
Maybe this can help you http://translate.google.com/#fr/en/Et%20%C3%A0%20notre%20%C3%A9poque%20%3F
I think it's a regional thing where some speakers will pronounce 'et' as 'ee' before a vowel. It's hard to confirm since all French textbooks say that 'et' is always pronounced 'ay', but I've found that Forvo is a good source to hear subtle regional differences.
http://www.forvo.com/word/j%27ai_vingt-et-un_ans This phrase has 'et' pronounced both 'ay' and 'ee', and
http://www.forvo.com/word/vingt-et-un has just 'et' pronounced as 'ee'
Personally, I'd rather use "And nowadays ?"
So, imagine someone has just made a presentation about, say, work conditions in European mines in the 19th century. You could ask afterwards, "And nowadays ? Is it better? How's the situation elsewhere, in Africa or Asia ?"
"Et à notre époque ? C'est mieux ? Comment est la situation ailleurs, en Afrique ou en Asie ?"
If i was referring to our time as our era, or period off history, or like using 'nowadays' (which i think is what 'notre époque' refers to?) I would say 'IN' our time. I wouldn't normally say "at our time".... unless maybe i was talking about a time of day. For example, "let's meet AT our regular time."