Just to Let You Know I’m Still HERE!

Hi Guys! ;-) Just to give you a quick update on what I'm doing now and why I haven't published any videos lately - I'm busy as hell preparing new content for the website, and I want to make sure there's plenty of articles lined up for publishing. Soon enough you'll start hearing more often from me, and I promise you this - all the videos and articles I'm preparing are going to be really useful and actionable! Chat to you soon, Robby

How to Reduce Clauses to Phrases in English Sentences

My last article for English Harmony was about when you can and can’t omit relative pronouns such as “who” and “that” from sentences. What we concluded is that you can omit the pronoun when it acts as an object, as in the sentence below: The dog (that) Mary is petting has brown fur. (The relative pronoun “that” is optional here.) But you cannot omit the pronoun when it acts as a subject, as in this sentence: The dog that is eating a biscuit has brown fur. However, astute reader Juhapekka pointed out that in examples like the above sentence, you can’t omit only the pronoun, but you can omit the pronoun plus the form of “to be” (in this case, “is”): The dog eating a biscuit has brown fur. (This is a well-formed sentence!) This introduces an entirely new topic in English grammar called clause-to-phrase reduction. This article will explore clause-to-phrase reduction, explain how and why it happens, and hopefully make the mysterious world of English grammar a little bit less confusing. (more…)

Can I Become a Fluent English Speaker at the Age of 34?

Hello guys and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! Obviously, I'm Robby and I don't even know why I'm saying this every time I start a new video. It's just one of those things I say, "Welcome back to my video blog and I am Robby." Obviously, all of you who have been following my blog will know that I am Robby. Who else could I be? But, it's just that on the off chance that there's someone new to my blog and to the whole English Harmony thing who might be watching this video and they don't know what my name is, I'm greeting you guys by letting you know my name - Robby Kukurs. Write it down. Bookmark my website - EnglishHarmony.com - because it's one of the best resources out there for those foreign English speakers who want to improve spoken English fluency, right? And also bookmark my YouTube channel, of course ;-) So, anyway, today's video is about whether - what was the question? It was a question asked by one of my blog visitors I'm pretty sure because that's where I gain most of the inspiration for creating new videos and articles. And these days, people asking me questions - whether it was an email or a comment, I'm not really sure, but it's irrelevant anyway. I remember now. The question was: “How successful can I expect my fluency improving attempts to be provided that I'm 34 years old or something like that, something along those lines, 34 or 35, basically mid-30's”. (more…)

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Tell Me What to Write About in 2015 and Win FREE Copy of EH System!

Hello my dear blog followers :!: Here’s the deal – if YOU suggest a GREAT topic for me to cover on my blog in 2015, you’ll automatically enter a draw for a chance to win one of 3 FREE copies of the English Harmony System – and I’ll do the draw LIVE in front of a camera. In order to do it, you have to post your suggestion in the COMMENTS SECTION BELOW this article – as soon as you do it, I’ll write your name on a piece of paper and enter into the draw box! But in case you already own the English Harmony System, here’s the kicker – I’ll give you a 30 minutes FREE FluencyStar chat session so either way you’re going to be a winner :!: So, how does that sound? Now, the topic you would suggest me to write about next year has to be related to English FLUENCY development and please bear in mind it’s NOT about me answering SIMPLE English grammar related questions. As you may already know, the English Harmony project is centered around English fluency issues and grammar comes second, so here’s a great example of a very valid question which I could make into a full-blown article or a video: Robby, I’ve bought plenty of English grammar books and I’ve become quite good at filling gaps into the exercises. When I’m trying to speak however, I’m not so good at it, so could you please write about how to use various English textbooks such as the Cambridge series in order to develop the ability to speak fluently? So, as you can see, the person asking this question is facing a specific issue – they have plenty of English textbooks and they want to know how to use them best in order to develop ability to speak more fluently. So for as long as your question is about anything English fluency related – speech anxiety happening for no apparent reason, inability to speak at a particular event, difficulties speaking at work, struggling to memorize new English vocabulary, finding it difficult to respond to people’s questions – you get the drift! – your question is going to be considered a contender for the draw. Now, you can also ask SPECIFIC English grammar questions for as long as the fluency aspect is concerned – such as: I’m finding it difficult to use the Past Perfect Tense in my speech, so maybe it’s best not to use it and just stick with the Simple Past? If I try to use the Past Perfect Tense, I just can’t speak fluently because I’m thinking too much! But please don’t ask simple grammar questions such as “How to use the word “to be” in English?” because – just like I already said – my blog’s main focus is on the fluency aspect and that’s the way I’d like to keep it! So, what are you waiting for? Publish your suggestion for an article or a video for me to cover in 2015 in the comments section below, and you’ll automatically enter the draw! Deadline for submissions: 31.12.2014 Draw date: 1.1.2015 Thanks so much in advance! ;-) Cheers, Robby

Don’t Over-analyze Your English – Say SOMETHING!

Easy Guide on Omitting English Relative Pronouns “Which, Who, and That”

Do you ever think English grammar is just trying to confuse you? If you’re trying to learn English, all the grammatical rules and exceptions can be overwhelming. Heck, even as a native English speaker, I often feel like English was designed specifically to be as complicated as possible! For example, why is it that both of the following sentences are great...         The dog that Mary is petting is very fluffy.         The dog Mary is petting is very fluffy. ...but only the first of the following two sentences is acceptable?         The dog that has brown fur is very fluffy. (This is fine!)         The dog has brown fur is very fluffy. (This is bad!) In this article, I’ll be talking to you about sentences in which you can (and can’t) omit relative clauses, such as who, that, or which. These are called contact clauses, because they consist of two clauses that are right next to each other, and therefore they come into contact with each other. By the end of this article, the sentences above will be confusing no more - and you’ll be forming contact clauses of your own :!: (more…)

Why Don’t I Learn Other Languages By Applying English Harmony Principles?

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! In today’s video, I’m going to address a question asked by one of my YouTube commentators whose name is Shamil. Hi, Shamil! How are you getting on? Thanks for asking the question, it’s a very valid one. Let me read it out first. “Robby, are you currently learning any new language? It’s just that you’ve figured out how to efficiently learn English and reach fluency in English so why limit yourself with English only? Why not apply all of your experience on, for example, French? Surely you can apply the same way of learning techniques and become fluent in French or in any other language in no time. Maybe we’ll see you in the future on your new channel in French! Regards, Shamil”. Thanks for the question. It’s a very valid one. Indeed, I’ve figured out that I can actually learn and improve my English by using all these colocations and phrases and a lot of self-practice by repeating the phrases and memorizing them all over again, using in my self-practice sessions then using them in real life conversations with people. So, all of these methods and techniques together coupled with fluency management techniques whereby I monitor my fluency all the time and whenever I feel that my fluency goes down a bit, I apply all these methods, right, and there’s a number of them. The simplest one is to slow your speech down, right. There’s more techniques. If you feel that you’re really stuck, you actually try and speak much faster as some sort of a reverse psychology. Basically, you’re trying to make as many mistakes as you actually can and sometimes, it actually helps you to get through the plateau, so to speak. You actually start speaking much better for some reason or another, and then there’s a technique whereby you just try to empty your mind and basically get rid of all those negative thoughts and you just basically speak about whatever comes into your mind. You just don’t care whether what you say might be a bit erroneous, maybe there’s a few mistakes in it, whatever. You just don’t care about that, you just lose yourself basically and distance yourself from other people’s opinions, emotions, what they might think, whatever. I’ve discussed all of these strategies in great depth on my blog throughout the years, so obviously… (more…)

Ask Me ANY English Grammar Related Question You May Have!

UPDATE! Here you can check out the article where I've answered all your questions below!!! Hello my fellow foreign English speakers! Are you having any English grammar related questions that have been bugging you for a long time but you just can’t figure out the right answers? Now you can ask me ANY English grammar related question and I guarantee I’ll answer it in the most detailed and helpful way I can! Here’s the plan (I just thought of it this morning and personally think it’s a brilliant plan!): You post your question in the comments section below I put ALL of your questions in an article I respond to each and every single one of your questions As a result we’re going to have a massive article on this blog where I've answered all your questions! UPDATE! Here you can check out the article where I've answered all your questions below!!! Just think about it – not only you’ll get your own question answered, but you’ll also bound to come across some other question that’s also going to be really helpful in your particular situation ;-) So please my friend, if you have a couple of minutes to spare – just head over to the comments section below and ask your grammar related question – and remember, no question is too simple! I’m going to answer them all :!: Chat soon, Robby

Skype Based English Teaching – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Less Opportunities You Have to Speak With Others, The More You’ve Gotta Speak With Yourself!

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello, my friends! Hello, my dear fellow foreign language speakers! I’m Robby from Englishharmony.com and welcome back to my video blog. Today’s topic is something that I’ve touched upon multiple times on my blog and on my YouTube channel, namely - it’s... The Importance of Doing Frequent Self-practice. Basically, you’ve got to be exercising your spoken English by engaging in a lot of self-practicing. “Why?” - you may ask. It’s very simple! If you haven’t got that many opportunities to speak with other people in real life then pretty much the only way you can maintain a high level of spoken English is speaking on your own. It’s no different from working out your body if you’re an athlete, right, and obviously nowadays there’s millions of people engaging in all types of sports related activities, even not being professional athletes for that matter, right, so basically its available to anyone. Gym memberships are as cheap as ever and anyone can join a gym, or indeed just do something at home or run, which is my thing personally - I’ve been a runner for six years now, or slightly more, right. So basically, when you work out your body, more often than not, you just do it on your own. You don’t necessarily engage in team sports, so if you draw parallels between speaking with other people and playing team sports games such as football or soccer, depending on where in the world you come from. Soccer, that’s American because football in America is American football which is a totally different ball game altogether, right. (This was an idiomatic expression.) If you say that something is a totally different ball game, it simply means that this thing that you’re talking about is a completely new thing, right, but ironically enough, I was talking about ball games and I was actually using that expression in which case, it’s not so idiomatic anymore because American football and European football are the so called soccer, right, it’s a totally different ball game, but what was I talking about initially? You see, I have this bad habit of straying off the subject because I keep talking and talking… We were talking about speaking with other people is pretty much the same as being engaged in team sports but working out on your own is the same as doing some spoken English practice on your own and there’s nothing wrong with that. (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “It Came to Light That…”

English Collocation: May Have Been Led to Believe That…

Hello boys and girls! ;-) In today’s English idiomatic expression video you’re going to find out how to use the following collocation: MAY HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE THAT… Yes, it may seem like a very complicated English grammar construct because it’s Passive Voice, Present Perfect and it also begins with MAY – basically it really looks like a handful when you try to pronounce it first time around. You’ve got to bear in mind, however, that the key to English fluency is AUTOMATION. Just repeat it a good few times and you’ll realize that it’s not that difficult after all! Also, you also have to stop analyzing the sentence MAY HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE THAT… from the grammar standpoint and wonder WHY you have to say it this exact way. All you need to start using it in your own daily conversations is being able to say it without much thinking in the right situations: When pointing out to someone that something they believe in isn’t really true When pointing out that something everyone believes in general isn’t the way it seems So, watch the video above for more example sentences containing today’s phrase, and I’d be really glad if you posted comments below this blog post on how you’d use this collocation. Give me some example sentences! Cheers, Robby ;-)

Creating English Sentences Using New Words? Waste of Time!

Does the following scenario ring a bell with you? -> You’re looking at a list of new English words given to you by your English teacher Your task is to use each of those words in a new sentence You’re going mad trying to think of example sentences… Eventually you create sentences in your native language containing those new words and then you translate them into English! Needless to say, this entire exercise is a total waste of your precious time and chances are, you’re not going to be able to use those new English words even when you’ve managed to insert them into sentences! Why? Well, keep reading this article and you’ll learn a thing or two about such practice of creating new English sentences using new vocabulary words – and you’ll also find out why learning READY-TO-GO sentences instead of creating new ones is the BEST way of acquiring those new English words! (more…)

Tricks with English Words – Horse Show or Horror Show?

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I just wanted to let you know guys that today I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show; but what did I just say? Was it Dublin Horse Show or Dublin Horror Show? You see, I said it quite fast: “I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show!”; it could have actually been either, horse show or horror show. There is no sure fire way of telling which one it was. It all depends on the context my friends, and this is one of those things that so many foreign English speakers just won’t accept. Sometimes when you don’t really understand what the particular word means, people start getting all confused and complain about double meanings in the English language and how can they possibly understand all the meanings of a single word, but the answer is the context my friends, obviously. Just the first time around when I mentioned Dublin Horse Show, you probably would be a little bit doubtful what show I meant but then in the conversation that would quite naturally follow that, you would realize what I’m talking about. If I say, “I got an invitation to Dublin Horror Show and I’m going to bring a zombie mask with me”, obviously I’m talking about a horror show, something like a horror walk, something like a Halloween’s day parade where I want to put on some different masks and go trick and treating around town and knocking on people’s doors and getting sweets, and sometimes getting some abuse as well. If I was to say that I’m going to a Dublin Horse Show and I’m going to watch how horse riders are show jumping then obviously it’s all about horses.  It couldn’t possibly be horror show, right, so as I said, context explains everything. Context clarifies everything and I suggest you check out this link if you haven’t already done so previously while watching my videos and browsing my blog, and in this article, there’s a video as well.  You can perform a test and see how these words co-locate, how they go together and that’s all about the context you’re learning basically. You acquire a vocabulary contextually. A word is never on its own, and even if there’s a few words together, such as Dublin Horse Show, there’s always some more context to follow. It’s never just a single phrase on its own! (more…)

You Should ACT Rather Than REACT During English Conversations!

English Idiomatic Expression: “To Go the Extra Mile”

Hello boys and girls! ;-) I haven’t posted any English idiomatic expression videos lately, so I figured why not record one and put it up on YouTube and on my blog so that you can learn something new! Today’s phrase is the following: TO GO THE EXTRA MILE and if you want to find out how it’s to be used in real life English conversations, please watch the video above. In this video I’m providing 3 examples of using this particular idiomatic expression, but obviously there’s a whole lot more ways of using it when communicating with other English speakers. The expression TO GO THE EXTRA MILE can be used whenever you want to describe someone making extra effort – if you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Walking another mile when you’ve already walked the entire way quite obviously involves some extra work, and apparently at some stage native English speakers started using this phrase to describe making extra effort in general. So, watch this video, do some spoken English practice with this expression in order to cement it into your brain, and if you’ve any questions in relation to this phrase – let me know in the comments section below! Cheers, Robby

Many Native English Speakers Don’t Realize How HARD It Actually Is to Learn a Language!

Translation from English is Bad For Your Fluency + Example From My Early Days as a Teacher

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW Hi guys and welcome back to EnglishHarmony.com video blog! I’m Robby from EnglishHarmony.com, obviously, and in this video episode, we’re going to touch upon a subject that we’ve spoken about many times before, namely - the fact that you don’t have to translate from English into your native language and vice versa while getting involved in English improving related activities. Obviously, we’ve spoken about it at length previously so I’m not going to get into the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing that.  By now, they should be quite obvious to you but for those who haven’t watched my videos in the past and haven’t visited my website probably, let me tell you just one thing. If you translate, you can’t speak fluently because your mind is too preoccupied with dealing with all the grammar related issues and basically creating sentences from scratch in your mind, instead of speaking spontaneously and that’s what fluent speech is all about. In relation to the whole ‘don’t translate’ subject, I’m going to bring up an example of what happens when people try to translate, and it happened years ago. (more…)

4 Reasons I Wish I Was Born a Native English Speaker

I don’t believe for a second that native English speakers would be superior to foreigners and those who hail from countries where other languages are used as means of communication of first choice. I’m very well aware, however, that people who are born native English speakers have an unfair advantage over non-native English speakers simply because they happen to speak the world’s language which avails them of more opportunities in life! What opportunities? Well, here’s a list of things English fluency has given me - only bear in mind that I’m a foreigner so it goes without saying that any native English speaker would avail of all the same PLUS a whole lot more because they've ALWAYS been fluent English speakers whereas I’ve acquired my fluency later in life. Sure enough, if you’re willing to work exceptionally hard, you can be extremely successful in life as a foreign English speaker – just think about people like Arnie, for example. Work like hell, never stop – and the world is your oyster, isn’t that right? It’s all nice and well, but the reality is a little bit different. We rarely hear about those non-native English speakers who are working really hard and still don’t achieve their ambitions just because they happen to come from a foreign background – it’s only the success stories that everyone hears about… So, here’s 4 reasons as to why I wish I was born a native English speaker, and if you feel that I’ve left something out – just post it in the comments section below! (more…)

Using Short English Words AT, OF, A, THE in Conversations

VIDEO SCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog. I'm Robby, your English fluency mentor from EnglishHarmony.com and in today's video we're going to look at what you should be doing when you're not sure of usage of certain little English words such as "at", "of", "a", and "the". So basically, when you're speaking and you're not sure of whether you should stick that little word in the phrase or sentence or you shouldn't - let me tell you right up front: if you start analyzing your speech too much and you start wrecking your head over these tiny little details, your fluency is gonna go out the window. Here is a typical example of what I'm talking about today - just listen to it once more: "out the window". What did I just say? Did I just say, "out OF THE window" or did I just say, "out THE window"? (more…)

English Verb “To GET” & How To Use It in Phrasal Verbs, Expressions & More!

Memorizing Grammar Rules to Get a Promotion? How Crazy is That?!

Back in the day when I was still naïve and thought that learning plenty of English grammar rules would avail of increased fluency, I used to dedicate a significant amount of time to re-reading all those grammar rules and memorizing them off by heart. I mean – I was actually MEMORIZING the grammar rules like a POEM! Here’s an example: When to use the indefinite article “a”: With nouns in singular only First mention with countable nouns In predicate with the verb “to be” Instead of “every” I won’t list the rest of the stipulations on when the indefinite article is used because this is just an example of what I used to memorize so that you get the drift of what I’m saying here. Basically I would memorize LONG LISTS of stipulations and example sentences describing specific aspects of English grammar and I was hoping that when I know them all, I’d become a fluent English speaker. I was even hoping that this exercise would help me get a promotion in the job I had at the time! (more…)

Which is Better – Direct or Indirect Speech?

The More English You Know, The… Less You Know?!

VIDEO SCRIPT BELOW: Hello boys and girls and welcome back to my video blog! I'm Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and I'm your fluency mentor, and today's video is going to be dedicated to the following subject: Sometimes as you go about your English learning and improvement routine you will kind of realize that THE MORE YOU KNOW, the less fluent you become! If you reminisce about days gone by, a couple years ago probably - when you just started learning the English language, when you knew not so much - basically when your knowledge was quite limited - you could actually say a whole lot more than now, when your knowledge is quite thorough and profound and you know a lot of synonyms describing the same abstract concepts and things and so on and so forth, you sometimes find that you actually struggle to say anything at all! But in the very early stages of your English fluency improvement and learning attempts you could say a whole lot more, or at least so it seems, right? So why this funny thing is happening? There's a very easy explanation for that, my friends: it's SYNONYMS, English vocabulary in general and how you've learned it - that's what it all boils down to :!: (more…)

English Has Brought the World Together!

Sachin, who is a customer of mine and a prolific contributor to my YouTube channel, inspired me to write this article, here's part of the comment he left on my YouTube video where I'm arguing against the prevalent view on Americans as being lazy language learners: One should accept that English language has contributed to the world more than any other language. English has brought the world together. English is not just British or American’s language anymore - it's the world’s language. Knowledge of the world got available to everyone only after converted in English! Well, we can all argue ad nauseam whether the English language is taking over the world, is it having a detrimental effect on smaller languages or not, and also accuse Americans for being lazy and ignorant when it comes to learning foreign languages. All that is actually IRRELEVANT when we consider the simple fact that the English language has indeed brought the entire world together in a lot of different ways and we, foreigners, are undoubtedly much better off learning it and speaking it as opposed to constantly moaning and complaining about the Evil Empire of English which is soon going to obliterate the smaller nations and countries! But in case my words are making your blood boil – consider this: We need to separate POLITICS from the LANGUAGE when discussing such matters! Just think about the German language and the activities that Germany was involved during WW2, for example. No sane person would condone what was done during those years – atrocities brought upon the world by the fascist regime were outrageous, to say the least. Do we hate the German language for the criminal past of the country that it represents, however? Of course we don’t! Same goes with the English language. A lot of people just follow the mainstream opinion of the US being the evil empire and tarnish the English language with the same brush :mad: Yes, there’s no denying that here’s a lot of controversy about the warfare the country is getting itself involved in – mostly when it suits its foreign policies (pursuit for energy sources, expansion of American companies and interests in the war-torn countries etc). The English language, however, BELONGS TO THE WORLD - just like Sachin pointed out. It belongs to anyone who speaks it! I love English, and when I go about my daily spoken English practice, I don’t considering myself as a traitor of humanity just because I happen to like a language that’s being spoken by people who are involved in activities that we mightn’t approve of. As a matter of fact, it’s also spoken by millions upon millions GOOD and BRILLIANT people all over the world! It’s actually ridiculous, when you think about it, that so many people associate the English language with something NEGATIVE or something that they believe to be a bad thing. If speakers of all world languages abandoned speaking them by virtue of tyrants and murderers having spoken them, there’d be not a single language left in the world! Or if you believe that the English language spreads like a virus amongst indigenous languages and brings all the bad things with it – fast food, crime and drug abuse then you must be seriously deluded… It’s not the language that does it. It’s the Western way of life, if you like, but it’s not the language that is to be blamed for it. Hadn't it been the English language that is spoken by the world’s superpowers linked to all the “bad” things (obesity and fast food culture, consumerism and using the third world for easy and quick profits), it could have just as easily been French, Dutch, Spanish or German! Anyway, as I said – we could be arguing about these matters till cows come home because it’s very difficult to change people’s opinion on a certain subject. Better let’s talk about how EXACTLY the English language has brought the world together :!: (more…)