Robby Kukurs

I’m Robby, and I’m a non-native English speaker. Throughout my entire life I’ve always wanted to speak in English fluently, but because of the way English is taught in schools, I always struggled with my spoken English.

I couldn't learn to speak fluent English for 5 years - read about what I was doing to learn to speak fluently HERE - are YOU in the same situation?

Then, one fine day, after years of constant pursuit of English fluency, I realized the key aspect of spoken English improvement – learning English phrases and word combinations instead of studying grammar rules and trying to construct sentences in your head from scratch!

If you’re interested in improving your English fluency too, please check out the English Harmony System which is a product I created to help all my fellow foreigners to better their spoken English and achieve so much more in professional, social and personal life.

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For those foreign English speakers whose English understanding, writing and grammar is already good but they're struggling with spoken English!

Imprints natural English speech patterns in your mind - revolutionary speech exercising technology!

Builds your English confidence - no more situations when you stop and hesitate when speaking English!

5 Reasons Why It’s Easier To Speak With Native English Speakers Than Other Foreigners

A big part of my blog is dedicated to dealing with difficulties arising when a foreign English speaker speaks with a native English speaker. Fear of making mistakes. Trying to sound too perfect. Comparing your speech with the native speaker and running into certain speech problems as a result. They’re just a few of the number of problems that we, foreigners, may face while in pursuit of English fluency! No wonder that sometimes we feel more comfortable speaking with our fellow foreigners because we feel like we’re on a level playing field. We’re less likely to be judged, so we don’t become self-conscious when speaking in English, right? We can also use simple language without worrying that our speech will sound too simplistic and that we’ll get a patronizing treatment - am I also not right in saying this? Well, it’s not always the case! Sometimes a conversation with another foreign English speaker may turn out to be just as difficult – if not even more cumbersome. All of a sudden, all those problems you were running into when speaking with natives seem like nothing compared to how awkward it is to speak with another foreigner… In reality, on most occasions it’s all a matter of perspective and most of those problems are only happening in your head. Still, I want to give you 5 reasons why speaking with a native speaker may be easier. So, let’s begin with the reason number one which is… (more…)

Want to Improve Your English? Stop Watching TV in Your Language!

Watching TV alone won’t help you to speak fluent English. Yet if you spend most of your time wrapped up in your native language bubble watching TV in your language, you’ll deprive yourself of so much needed passive exposure to the English language which will help you to integrate into the society! To be honest with you, I don’t understand my fellow Latvians and other foreigners living in Ireland who only watch films dubbed in their native languages and opt for different online based solutions to enjoy TV channels from their home countries. You can accuse me of not being a patriot of my nation, but I think it’s plain silly to move to an English speaking country without making any conscious effort of fitting into the local society. Watching TV makes up a big part of our daily lives these days, and if you watch English TV shows and programs and enjoy latest movies in English, over years you’ll absorb an awful lot of new English vocabulary and expressions which will allow you to understand English spoken around you. You’ll also be able to: discuss popular TV programs with your English speaking friends and work colleagues; improve  your spoken English by using new phraseology in your daily conversations; develop a sense of belonging among the locals. You don’t have to deny your national background. It’s something no-one will ever take away from you, and personally I spend loads of time with my family, friends and relatives speaking in Latvian and I keep up-to-date with the latest developments in my home country by checking news online etc. Once you’ve made the decision to move to an English speaking country, however, I think it’s only common sense that you keep an open mind, make some effort to fit into the local society, and use the English language as means of achieving it! (more…)

English Harmony Highlights of May 2012

The first article I want you to check out is called Popular Misconceptions About Foreign English Speakers. In this blog post I’m looking at a few stereotypical assumptions in relation to foreign English speakers that are so popular that they’ve turned into criteria foreigners are very often judged by. If you’re curious about it, or if you often feel wrongly judged as a bad English speaker just because you have a strong accent for example, definitely check out this article and it might just put your mind at ease! Remember – you’ll do yourself a favor if you just ignore any negative emotions being directed your way. Speaking of which, I recommend you to read this blog post I published a short while ago called What You Can Learn from My Countryman’s Adventures in Britain’s Got Talent. It’s a very inspiring story about a Latvian guy Gatis living in Britain and pursuing his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. There’s a big lesson to be learnt from this story which is – “Enjoy your life through the English language and do what you love to do, and all of a sudden everything is going to be possible!” ;-) (more…)

3 Killer Tips on How to Write in English Like a Native Speaker!

What You Can Learn from My Countryman’s Adventures in Britain’s Got Talent

I want you to meet Gatis Kandis – he’s my fellow countryman and recently he was taking part in Britain’s Got Talent where he was doing stand-up comedy. He got through to semi-finals and while he got the first YES from the judges for the wrong reasons (he was branded by Simon Cowell as the funniest unfunniest comedian which I don’t think was true), there’s a great deal we can learn from him, and that’s why I decided to dedicate a whole article on my blog to him! First of all, he’s pursuing his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian while being a foreigner living in an English speaking country. It definitely took some courage and dedication to get onto the stage for the first time without knowing what the public reaction is going to be, but obviously it didn’t deter him from doing it. Secondly, there are always those who’ll point out a foreigner’s accent and mistake it for lack of English skills or whatever. I’m still getting the same treatment on certain occasions because of my own accent, and I’ve learnt a long time ago that ignorance is the only way to deal with it – obviously Gatis has adopted the same approach and it’s paying off big time! (more…)

My Honest Opinion on Developing English Listening Skills

Check Out the Most Popular Articles on This Blog!

One day I decided to check the statistics of my website and see which blog posts you’ve been reading the most. I selected the top 10 articles and I guess it provides a fair representation of what my average blog visitor is interested in, so you may want to check out the top 10 of English Harmony blog posts of all times! If you visit this blog frequently, you’ve probably read a good few of them, but I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple of links you haven’t encountered before and they might just provide you with some English fluency related info you’ve been looking for to no avail. So, let the countdown begin! (more…)

My Experience in a Polish Beauty Salon & What Foreign English Speakers Can Learn From It!

OK, it’s about time I came clean about my activities involving skin rejuvenation procedures and wrinkle treatment. Yes, I’m getting older, there’s a lot of grey hair emerging on my head, so I want to do everything within my power to fight the effects of time and look young forever… Just kidding! :grin: It’s not really me who used services of the beauty salon – it was my daughter and I just brought her there. I used it as an attention grabber and I just wanted to entice you to start reading this article, which is probably just as bad as lying, sorry for that! ;-) Keep reading this article though, because I’m about to tell you why my visit to the Polish beauty salon was more than just sitting in the hall and waiting on my daughter to finish her facial procedure. I got talking to the salon owner – a Polish woman – and what struck me was the fact that her English pronunciation was nearly perfect. Seriously, I couldn’t remember meeting any other foreigner here in Ireland having such a near-native level of English accent. Or should I say – lack of thereof – because at times she sounded exactly like the local English speakers! (for your reference – English spoken in Ireland is a bit different in terms of pronunciation and grammar than its American, British and Australian counterparts.) Me and my wife were chatting with her for a while, and I started noticing another thing – her English would probably upset some radical English language perfectionists because she was making a few grammar mistakes, especially when it came to using the Past Perfect Tense and grammar constructs like Conditional 2 Simple. Not that I would ever judge her; if there’s someone who’s adamant that foreign English speakers focus on what they CAN say instead of what they can’t - it’s me! I was simply amazed at how confident she was and how fluently she spoke despite allowing a slight imperfection to creep into her speech every now and then. And you know what? It didn’t hinder the communication between me, my wife and the salon owner a bit; we could speak with her with the same ease as we’d speak with native English speakers. (more…)

English Harmony Highlights of April 2012

This month has been prolific in terms of publishing and attracting more and more visitors and commentators to my website, and every day I have to spend more and more time engaging with my blog readers. And I have to tell you it’s very rewarding to see that your opinion matters to so many foreigners and native English speakers alike! The first article I want you to look at is called “How to Develop the Gut Feeling for Correct and Natural English”. You may have had the feeling when you just know that something sounds right when said in English, and you don’t even have to explain why, you just know it. I call it the “gut feeling”, and if you want to find out more about it and how to develop it, make sure you read this article! (more…)

Accelerated American Slang Learning: Watching all 7 Seasons of Desperate Housewives in Less than 3 Months

FREE eBook – Practical English Grammar!

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I hate spam as much as you do and I'll contact you only to send news about improving English fluency! Right after the request you’ll receive an e-mail with a confirmation link which will bring you straight to the download page. And here’s the good news – you can read this eBook on your computer or laptop as a PDF file, you'll get a MOBI version of it in case you have a Kindle eBook reader, but if you have an iPad - you can make use of the EPUB file! Bear in mind, my fellow foreigners, that this isn’t your traditional English grammar reference book or textbook :!: This “Practical English Grammar” eBook contains my own observations, analysis and interpretation of how English grammar is sometimes much different in real life than we expect it to be, and instead of having this “why would I speak like that, it’s not what my English teacher taught me!” attitude, I’m suggesting you to make it easier for yourself to speak English by speaking exactly like native English speakers speak! There are twelve chapters in the eBook covering aspects of English Grammar that you wouldn’t have probably even heard of – such as how to substitute Present Simple Tense for Present Continuous Tense in order to sound more natural and friendly - yet they’re very relevant for us, foreigners! And don’t worry, I’m not being very technical in the eBook and I’m not using very specific English Grammar related terms. All you need to know is what the Past Perfect Tense is and what GOING TO + Infinitive Future form is and you’ll understand everything I’m writing in the “Practical English Grammar” eBook! ;-) Wishing your Happy Reading, Robby

How I Started Speaking Fluent English by Pretending to be a Gangster

Crash Course in American English Pronunciation & Slang: Interview With Anthony from AmericanAnthony.com!

I’ve been fascinated with all things American since my childhood and it’s also one of the reasons why I started learning the English language at the age of 10. To this day, however, I haven’t mastered the American English pronunciation and I don’t think it’s that important for me personally. Well, considering that I’m living in Ireland it’s hardly surprising I wouldn’t find a practical application for an American accent! :grin: Anyhow, I haven’t made it my goal to speak with a near-native Irish English pronunciation either. You see, I’ve been struggling with my English fluency for years and I’ve actually found that when I try to speak with a native English accent, it may have a detrimental effect on my ability to speak English fluently. Having said that, I often speak with different English accents when I’m on my own. And, truth be told, I’m getting better at it! Still, when I’m speaking with others in real-life, I revert back to my normal foreign accent because it’s easier for me to speak that way. Many foreign English speakers, however, aspire to adopt a certain native English accent such as British or American, and many of them are very successful in doing so. If your dream is to sound like natural American speaker and you believe it’s what you have to do, there’s a person I’d like you to meet – Anthony Krese! He’s an English teacher and on his website called AmericanAnthony.com he focuses on teaching foreign English speakers American slang and accent. In other words – he makes foreigners sound like native American English speakers! In many ways mine and Anthony’s approach to English learning and improving is very similar. We both understand that real-life English is different from the one you’ll learn in textbooks. We also realize that plenty of foreigners lack in the department of socializing skills when it comes to speaking in English in informal settings. And while I believe that my foreign origin is actually an advantage when it comes to advising other foreigners on overcoming English fluency related issues in terms of mental aspects, Anthony has a natural edge of being a native English speaker when teaching how to speak like an American. Therefore I think it’s only fair that I turn to a professional for advice on how to speak with an American accent so that we all can learn some new tips and tricks and take Anthony’s advice on board! So let’s get started! Anthony, here’s the first question for you… (more…)

Funny English Phrases #3 – Money & Finance

Are you prepared to learn some money and finance related English idiomatic expressions? Then watch the 3rd Funny English Phrase video and you’ll learn the following expressions: To go to the wall The check bounced To buy a lemon Never bite the hand that feeds you Money talks To make sure you add those expressions to your active English vocabulary, please read them out loud a few times, memorize them, and eventually make a conversation with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to make it funny like I did in the video; all you have to do is use those phrases in your own sentences so that you become comfortable using them in real life English conversations. Enjoy! Robby ;-)

The ONLY 3 English Grammar Rules You Need to Know to Speak Fluent English

Personally I stopped studying English Grammar the traditional way years ago. By now I’ve actually forgotten most of the grammar terms and rules I had hammered into my brain, and just as well – they only prevented me from speaking English fluently. Why? Simple enough – I used to spend way too much time analyzing my thoughts, applying Grammar rules and preparing my speech in my head. It was killing my English fluency, and it took me quite a while to figure out the simple truth – English collocations (phrases, idiomatic expressions, most commonly used sentences) already contain all necessary grammar in them! When I speak English now, I don’t think about grammar anywhere near as much as I used to. I just rely on my “gut feeling” and get fully involved in conversations. My intuition takes care of English Grammar! For instance, English preposition usage rules determine that you have to say “ON this occasion” but the word ‘situation’ goes with a preposition ‘in’ – “IN this situation”. Personally I don’t look at it as something that has to be constantly recalled during English conversations. I mean - once you learn the relevant collocations – “in this situation” and “on this occasion” – it sticks with you and you don’t have to consciously think which preposition to use every time you speak. Having said all this, however, I have to admit there are a few English Grammar rules I always bear in mind, and they’re just about the only ones you need to know on top of naturally occurring English phrases and collocations to form correct and fluent English speech. Of course, I’m not saying the ones below are the only English Grammar rules you’ll EVER need. But let me remind you that this blog is for advanced foreign English speakers therefore the main presumption is that you don’t have a problem with Basic English Grammar – it’s completely out of the question here! So, let’s look at the 3 English Grammar Rules that will help you to maintain your English fluency – especially on occasions when your English fluency experiences slight dips and you need to be a bit more careful when speaking. (more…)

English Harmony Highlights of March 2012

3 Basic Rules of Effective English Communication

Whether you find it difficult to get fully involved in simple English conversations or giving speeches in front of a group of people, the same basic rules of effective English communication apply in virtually all situations. Without further ado, let’s look at the 3 basic rules of effective English communication: Rule #1: Know WHAT you want to say! Rule #2: Have EFFICIENT vocabulary and phraseology! Rule #3: PRACTICE as much as you can! Sounds too simplistic? I bet you’ll be surprised to find out how much there actually is to these simple 3 rules! Yes, it’s common sense that one needs to know WHAT to say, but if you think about it in depth, you’ll realize that on way too many occasions you’ve actually tried to say something despite NOT HAVING A CLUE as to what exactly you’re going to say! The rule about having efficient English vocabulary, however, is multifaceted. While superficial thinking might result in a simple conclusion: “Yes, of course I need to have enough means of expression to explain myself properly, what’s so surprising about this?”, there’s another dimension to this problem. Namely – the average foreign speaker often lacks confidence and isn’t aware of how much he or she actually knows, and if you know how to use your English vocabulary right, you can talk about almost any topic! This brings us to the third rule – frequent practice. Yes, also a very simple and common-sense suggestion; yet way too many foreigners expect to be effective communicators without trying hard enough. Just because you’ve spent years studying the language doesn’t mean you’ve become a fluent English speaker, and frequent practice is paramount when it comes to English fluency! (more…)

More Proof That Context and Associations Play Crucial Role When It Comes to Spoken English Performance

How Repetition Happens in Real English Conversations and Why It’s Important to YOU!

A while back I received a comment to one of my blog posts about how useful the Mythbusters show is for your spoken English improvement saying that writing down phrases in a notebook for later repetition while watching TV removes the fun factor from the experience. Here’s the original comment: I haven't convinced yet to carry pocket dictionary, notebook or even use any type of system that allows me to save new words and phrases for later repetitions, I always think that these methods remove the fun factor from the process of learning, and take you away from the true immersion so you always seem as foreigner to that language. I -and may you also- never carry a notebook while watching TV in our native language, watching TV mostly is a fun activity, you just rest and watch, isn't that right? While I can see where the author of that comment is coming from, I can’t fully agree with his sentiment that by taking notes for later repetition all the fun factor is removed. First of all, you don’t have to do it all the time! Let’s say, you’re watching an episode of a TV drama, and throughout its 40 or 60 minute duration three or four phrases draw your attention. Is it really going to kill your TV watching experience if you pause your TV four times during the episode? Secondly, the benefits of jotting those phrases down and repeating them afterwards by far outweigh all possible hassle that such practices may cause to you. I mean, what is more important to you – your spoken English improvement, or being able to watch a TV drama or sitcom in English without ANY interruptions at all? Thirdly – of course you can watch TV in English purely for your enjoyment every now and then without holding a notebook in your hands. I’ve never said that in order to improve your English fluency, you must sacrifice all your free time and be 100% dedicated to it. After all, even passive English immersion will make the English language seep into your brain without you even noticing it, albeit at a slower rate than being actively engaged in spoken practice and repeating and memorizing new vocabulary and phraseology. But if you’re a bit skeptical about using spaced repetition as an effective spoken English improving tool, I want you to read the rest of this blog post before jumping the gun and dumping the idea completely. Do you think repeating and memorizing English phrases is an unnatural way of improving the language? Then think twice, because I’m about to present hard proof that repetition already exists in real life English conversations, it’s just that you mightn’t have noticed it before! (more…)

Should Japanese and Vietnamese English Speakers Bend Over Backwards to Get Their Pronunciation Right?

I have customers from all over the world – Brazil, the United States, Australia, Japan, Philippines, Arab Emirates – you name it! Also, the native background of the English Harmony System’s owners is as diverse as the countries they reside in. I have Arabic and Chinese speaking customers from the States, Hindi speakers from the UK and Brazilian Portuguese speakers who live in Australia. It just goes to show how widespread the English fluency issue is and how often foreign English speakers have developed their understanding and reading skills at the cost of their spoken fluency just because it’s a conventional wisdom that one needs to focus on reading and writing in order to become fluent. It’s wrong, of course, and that’s what the English Harmony System does – it rearranges your English knowledge by forming natural English speech patterns so that you can speak more fluently and confidently. Anyway, there’s one aspect the English Harmony System doesn’t cover, and I don’t touch upon it on my blog often, either. Namely, it’s English pronunciation. Well, I actually do mention pronunciation when it comes to discussing fluency and the fact that many foreigners are trying to speak with perfect pronunciation which may actually have quite the opposite effect on their ability to speak fluently. In other words, I’m always saying that you have to speak and pronounce English words in a way most comfortable to you, and that you don’t have to be too hung up on being perfect  :!: But then one day I got an e-mail from one of my Japanese customers and it got me thinking if there might be more to the pronunciation aspect than I had thought. (more…)

4 Pieces of Evidence That Past Experience, Context and Mental Associations is Everything When it Comes to Spoken English

We humans are creatures of habit and conditioning and all our actions are rooted in the past performance and experience. No matter what human activity is looked at, chances are that your subconscious remembers similar activity from the past and it dictates you what to do. The tricky part is, you might not be even aware of it because your brain literally has a mind of its own and you might have a very little say in the process. Let’s say for instance, you’ve just started in a new company and you have to speak with plenty of new people during your first days in the new job. Your English performance is quite good, and you’re satisfied with yourself. Then comes along a particular person you experience a few awkward moments with because you don’t really know what to say to each other. You hesitate, you stutter, you say something silly. It’s no big deal, it happens to everyone, right? Yeah, right… Try to say it to your brain :!: :grin: There’s a big likelihood that every time you meet that person, you’ll be more prone to making mistakes and not being able to speak proper English - and all because of that first bad experience. And, if it happens for a few more times, the damage is done. Conditioned reflex has been created. Do you want more proof that past experience and spoken English performance are closely related resulting in conditioned reflexes? Then read the rest of this article and you’ll see for yourself that spoken English is all about past experiences, associations and conditioned behavioral patterns :!: (more…)

Anger Management as Part of Your Overall English Fluency Improvement Plan

English Harmony Highlights of February 2012

Blog post I want you to check out first of all is the announcement of the digital download version of the English Harmony System 2.0 going live, and it’s really good news for those who’ve always wanted an immediate access to the product after the purchase is made. The only difference between the download version and the physical product is that you need an Internet connection to use the download version of the English Harmony System, so if you want to play safe and use the System on your laptop when you’re not connected to the Internet, you might as well pay those extra few bucks and get the DVD package delivered to your doorstep worldwide for free. And – you’ll still get the download, so it’s a win-win no matter how you look at it! Now let’s look at one particular strategy of English fluency maintenance that definitely warrants your attention. It's an article is about using reverse psychology in order to deal with English fluency issues. It’s definitely worth your time and if you only have a few minutes, it’s the only February blog post I want you to read! It’s controversial, it’s crazy, and your first impression might be that by implementing the reverse psychology strategy you might only make your matters worse! Well, you are totally right IF you don’t experience those terrible fluency issues when you get tongue-tied and unable to say anything reasonable. Those who’ve tried all my fluency management strategies and still encounter situations when it’s very difficult to maintain fluency at a normal level, this reverse psychology approach might just do the trick! (more…)

Is It OK to Point Out Mistakes Made by Others?

Random Stuff – Perfectionism, English Word Chunks and Blind Faith

Hi my fellow foreign English speakers :!: Here's a video I recorded on a Saturday night - I just thought "Why not just have a chat with my YouTube subscribers and blog readers? All my video Episodes are prepared and rehearsed; why not record something completely random and speak anything that crosses my mind?" So I did - and in this video you can hear me sharing my views on: perfectionism importance of learning English collocations having faith in your ability as a fluent foreign English speaker making mistakes, hesitation and stuttering when speaking English drinking And please - don't take me too seriously in this video. It's not an official English Harmony video Episode; it's rather a friendly informal chat with you. Enjoy! ;-) Best Regards, Robby

Speaking in English Made Super Easy – Follow my Tweets and Just Stick Word Chunks Together!

I’ve been blogging for what seems forever about the importance of learning English collocations. I’ve been always saying that the basic components of English speech are word combinations and expressions rather than separate words. And I’ve also been repeating myself ad nauseam that English fluency can be acquired much quicker if you mimic, repeat, memorize and use all those idiomatic expressions used by native English speakers in your own speech instead of sticking separate words together and applying grammar rules as you speak. I’m even making effort to highlight idiomatic expressions in my blog posts in red so that you can clearly see which English word chunks are worth memorizing! Today, I’m going to make it even easier for you. I’ll start publishing on my Twitter account any English word combinations that are worth memorizing ! Basically here’s what you have to do: (more…)