Listen to a story about a figure skating show I went to see downtown Toronto!
You’ll also learn how to pronounce the word “figure,” and how to pronounce compound words, like “figure skating.”
Welcome to the English Teacher Melanie Podcast, a podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners who want to improve their English listening and speaking skills!
Each episode includes a story and a pronunciation tip. In the story, I use core vocabulary, the most common words in English, to tell a real world story. The pronunciation tip will help you understand natural spoken English.
You’ll hear the story twice. The first time, the story is a little slower than normal. It sounds funny because I used editing software to change the speed of the story and make it slower. After the pronunciation tip, you’ll hear the story again, but at a regular speed.
(This story was originally published in 2010.)
On Friday night I went to see a figure skating show called, “Stars on Ice.” It’s a tour that’s currently traveling across Canada. All the performers are Canadian, and they’re some of the best figure skaters that Canada has ever produced. They include past and present Canadian national champions, world champions and Olympic medalists. Each skater performed a solo routine (or duet if they were a pair!) and also participated in group routines. It was an amazing show! Figure skating is really popular right now because of the success of some of our skaters at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
One of the performers was Joannie Rochette [she’s French-Canadian*]. She performed a beautiful routine dedicated to her mother. Two days before Joannie started competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics, her mother died of a sudden heart attack. Joannie decided to compete anyway in honor of her mother, and she went on to win a bronze medal. Her determination and courage at such a painful time in her life inspired the entire country.
Another performer was four-time World Champion Kurt Browning. He’s really popular in Canada and the audience was happy to see him! He’s arguably the best male figure skater Canada has ever produced, and he’s a good person who does a lot for charity. He’s also a big fan of hockey and at “Stars on Ice” he did his routine wearing hockey skates. That was incredible, because it’s very difficult to jump and spin in hockey skates!
I was really disappointed with the audience at “Stars on Ice.” The audience was really quiet. I was surprised that people weren’t cheering very loudly and there weren’t many standing ovations. Other than that, I had a great time. I thought all the skaters were outstanding. Canada has a small population. There are only 30 million of us, so it’s impressive that Canada has produced so many world-class figure skaters!
NOTE: One of the performers was Joannie Rochette. She’s French-Canadian. This is not the English pronunciation of the female name “Joanne,” “Jo-Ann,” or “Jo-Anne. Joannie Rochette is from Quebec, the French-speaking province in Canada, so her name is pronounced the French way.
In this pronunciation lesson, you’re going to learn two things: How to pronounce the word figure and how to pronounce compound words.
I. The word figure is two syllables. The stress is on the first syllable /fɪg/. This is the syllable that is said louder and longer than the other syllable.
Be careful NOT to say /i/ or /fig/. The letter i is pronounced as the short vowel /ɪ/: /fɪg/
The second syllable begins with the consonant y sound /j/. The –ure at the end of the word is pronounced as the vowel r sound /ɚ/. The –e at the end of the word is not pronounced: /jɚ/
(*This is the same sound as in the words cure, pure, & failure)
Now put those two syllables together: fɪg + jɚ
II. In the story, figure was also part of two compound nouns:
In compound nouns and compound adjectives, the first word is always stressed. The first word is said louder and longer than the second word. Listen carefully:
Make sure you say the two words together, with no pause in between them.