I have started recently learning esperanto using the Duolingo platform. And I have a reccuring problem at recognizing and differentiating "mi" and "ni". I suppose that in an exchange the context will most often help differentiate between the two. But I think that redundancy is sometimes limited in esperanto (for example, since the verbal forms at a given tense are all the same, they do not help solving the misunderstanding; e.g. "mi lernas", vs "ni lernas") and that might be a cause of misunderstanding. Has anyone experienced that problem, or is it me who start having hearing problems ?
I’ve been speaking Esperanto for over 15 years and I still have this problem too. A few times it has caused some really awkward misunderstandings. It’s not always possible to distinguish with context and sometimes this tiny difference in sound is the only thing marking the difference between “and you are invited” and “I’m going on my own”. It’s a real flaw with the language.
Yes, this can be a problem - and it's worse on Duolingo because people often use phones and tablets with little speakers. mi, vi, and ni often end up sounding very similar.
In person, lipreading can help, as can gesture. A good communicator will learn when it is necessary to add additional context. When in doubt, ask. When not in doubt, ask anyway.