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!

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

I love simple, short English verbs such as TO DO, TO PUT, TO GET and others - the reason being: the same verb can be used in a huge number of different situations thus making it possible for you to communicate about A LOT without spending a lot of time on learning massive amounts of new English vocabulary! Just look at how the simple verb TO GET replaces other words: Do you understand me? – Do you GET me? (As a matter of fact, this is what you should say when asking people if they understood what you’ve just said – a lot of foreigners overuse the verb “to understand”!) How much do you earn? – How much do you GET? Will you arrive on time? – Will you GET there on time? Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that you didn’t know the words “to understand”, “to earn” and “to arrive”. If that were the case, you’d hardly be able to formulate the above questions without using the word TO GET, and it just goes to show how effective it is to learn how to… Use One Word in 100 Different Ways Instead of Learning 100 Different Words! Well, obviously I’m not trying to discourage you from learning more English words and widening your vocabulary, it’s just that I’ve always believed it’s much easier to learn to speak English fluently with limited vocabulary and THEN learn more words. Unfortunately, so many foreign English speakers (I was one of them, by the way!) are trying to build massive vocabularies believing that it will somehow make them fluent while in reality nothing could be further from the truth … Anyway, let’s stop beating around the bush and here’s all you’ll ever need to know about the English verb TO GET! ;-) (more…)

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…)

4 Strategies to Stop Stumbling Upon Words When Speaking in English

Unless you’re a super-fluent foreign English speaker, you most certainly find yourself in situations when you stumble upon certain English words and sentences which leaves you frustrated and angry with yourself, am I not right? ;-) Well, I’m not talking about the typical tongue-twisters here such as “she sells seashells by the seashore” (try to say it out loud fast a few times in a row – you’re bound to make a mistake sooner or later by saying “she shells..” or something similar!) What I’m going to be looking in this article is simple words and phrases which are still quite easy to mispronounce because of repeating letters or similar sounds following each other in a quick succession: World Wide Web (letters “d” and “b” as well as the ‘R’ sound) I brought the bad goods back (letters “b” and “g”) What a wonderful world! (‘R’ sound) What happens sometimes when saying such and similar English sentences is the following – just because you’re trying to pronounce each sound within those words, your sound producing organs suddenly can’t cope with it, and that’s when you can implement various strategies I’m going to look at in this article. Let’s say, if you can’t get the sentence “What a wonderful world!” right and your tongue and lips just can’t seem to pronounce it correctly, you can re-write the sentence in your mind the following way: “Whada wondeful wold”. Try it, and you’ll realize that if you omit the letter “r”, (the ‘R’ sound isn’t that audible in this sentence anyway!) it becomes much easier for you to pronounce the sentence without getting your tongue twisted and you’re less likely to stumble upon words in the process. Bear in mind that I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to pronounce English words the right way. It’s just that I believe if you have to choose between struggling when speaking AND speaking freely albeit with a slightly incorrect pronunciation, you should go with the last option if your ability to speak fluently is very important at that particular moment in time. But now let’s look at some examples on how you can modify English words and sentences so that you can pronounce them easier :!: (more…)

Don’t Judge Other People’s English Because of Lack of Vocabulary

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…)

4 PRACTICAL Things You Didn’t Know About the English Language

“Blow – blew – blown”: Learn Irregular English Verbs Through Expressions!

FIRST OF ALL READ THE ARTICLE BELOW where I’ve explained everything about how irregular English verbs should be acquired: Learn English Irregular Verbs Through Collocations, Idioms and Phrasal Verbs! In that article you’ll learn why it makes no sense to learn the typical irregular verb word strings consisting of 3 words such as: “blow – blew – blown”. And not only it doesn’t make sense – it’s even bad for your fluency :!: Why? Well, simply because instead of USING those verbs (which happens when you learn them as part of phraseology) you’d be desperately trying to think of HOW and WHEN to use them… Needless to say, that’s when fluency goes out the window! Anyhow, let’s stop beating around the bush, and let’s focus on today’s English irregular verb “TO BLOW”. Here are the phrases from the video above you’re going to learn containing all three forms of the verb “blow – blew – blown”: (more…)

Don’t Learn Complicated English Tenses TOO Soon!

Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog - or welcome back to my podcast in case you're listening to this as an audio file on iTunes or on my blog. In today's video I'm going to tell you about English tenses, namely - what I think about them and how you should go about acquiring complicated English tenses. You see, I strongly believe that way too many foreign English speakers are focusing on English tenses too early in their attempts to acquire English fluency. I'm getting plenty of comments and emails sent in asking the same questions: "I'm all confused about the tenses. Please, Robby, explain how to use this or that English tense" and questions like, "I need to prepare for this English test or for this exam" and "can you help me to understand the complicated English tenses" and so on and so forth. Now, if it's about an exam or a test, then yes, I admit, the traditional English teaching industry requires you to analyze grammar, to understand tenses and it's a bad thing because that way you get all too focused on analyzing the language instead of speaking or writing spontaneously, right? My approach is, you have to start learning the English language and then proceed forward with learning simple language, simple sentences, simple word combinations, simple tenses. It's totally possible to speak using only three English tenses – Present Simple, Present Continuous, and Simple Past - and I know for a fact that a lot of YouTubers, video bloggers who come from the foreign English speaking background actually don't use complicated English tenses. (more…)

Learn Pronunciation by Equating English Sounds to Your Native Language!

Hello everyone! ;-) Today let’s touch upon some English pronunciation related topic, namely - how you learn pronunciation of new English words and how to mimic the original pronunciation to the best of your benefit when you are trying to speak them out loud. And here's a very interesting situation I encountered a few days ago at work. There’s a Polish girl in my workplace who's only learning to speak English and she asks me questions through her friend whose English is much better and every day I have to answer a few questions in relation to how you say this or that particular thing in English or how you pronounce a certain word or phrase. The other day, she asked me through her friend how to pronounce the word "drank" and then, to my big surprise, she repeated in perfect English "drank" and guess what happened? I tried to think of why she didn't make the typical mistake that so many foreign English speakers do when they read an English word letter by letter and then they would most likely say something like "drrrank" in case that particular language has the rolling ‘R’, as in my language. In Latvian, we roll the ‘R’s and many native counterparts of mine would have said "drrrank" with a rolled ‘R’ sound! So in this particular case Polish is a Slavic language, which is quite close to Russian. And it happens so that I speak Russian too and I know for a fact that all these languages have the rolling ‘R’s - so why did she not say, "drrrank"? Why'd she say "drank" in perfect English? Here’s why: she equated the English sounds to her native Polish sounds because she wasn’t looking at a written word but was simply trying to MIMIC what she heard! (more…)

Don’t Try Just to THINK in English – Speak It All Out LOUD!

Why Can’t I Speak With My Fellow Native Speakers in English Fluently?

Have you ever found that you can’t speak normal, fluent English with people who speak your own language? It may sound weird at first, but it happens more often than you may think :!: The reason why I’m touching upon this phenomenon is the following comments I received on YouTube recently: Well, I have written about the inability to speak with certain people in English. I’ve also looked at various reasons as to why it might be easier to speak in English with native English speakers and why sometimes you’ll actually find that other foreigners provide better conversation partners than native English speakers. (more…)

English Fluency Issues Is a Blessing in Disguise!

How I Said “Check” Instead of “Receipt” in a Hardware Store (And What You Can Learn From It!)

I’ve been an English fluency mentor for a good few years now, but it doesn’t mean I speak in English perfectly at all times. You see, I’m an active proponent of letting it go when speaking in English which invariably involves making a few mistakes here and there, and there’s nothing wrong when a person capable of speaking fluent English says something wrong. In this particular situation I was paying for goods in a hardware store, and I wanted to ask the cashier for a receipt. Instead of using the word “receipt”, however, I worded the request the following way: “Can I have a check, please?” Needless to say, I corrected myself immediately after saying the wrong phrase – “Can I have the receipt, please?” is the proper way of asking for a proof of purchase at a till (the word “check” is used when you’re in a restaurant). Was a feeling bad about confusing the cashier though? Not at the slightest! :-) (more…)

Thinking in English Happens With Your Mouth

This video is dedicated to Juhapekka’s last comment on my blog where he says that he’d really like to be able to think about the most sophisticated and complex subjects in English, but he’s not really able to. Juhapekka is a Finnish guy and he’s a frequent commentator on my blog - he’s posted a good few comments and they’re very profound and I really, really appreciate his contribution to my blog. So, thank you once more Juhapekka! ;-) But now let’s get down to the business and let me respond to the actual comment. Let me tell you right up-front that it’s going to be useful to everyone – not just Juhapekka – so just watch the video above (or listen to the audio file just above the video in case you can’t access YouTube content) and you’ll definitely find something useful for your own English improvement routine. (more…)

English Learning Principles for Total Beginners

Here are other links mentioned throughout the video: http://englishharmony.com/why-cant-speak-fluently/ http://accentadventure.com/sentences/ http://englishharmony.com/kids-vs-adults/ http://englishharmony.com/present-continuous-vs-present-simple/ Throughout the years while I've been running this blog, I've always focused upon needs of those non-native English speakers who find themselves in a situation I was in a number of years ago - unable to speak fluently despite possessing fairly good grammar, reading, writing and comprehension skills in English. In other words, I'm catering to those foreigners who are long past the beginners English level in terms of general English knowledge and they've developed what I like to call a "writing mode" syndrome. But what about those who only start the journey into the English language now? Obviously, they wouldn't be able to read and understand this article for the simple reason that they haven't built and developed their vocabulary and all the rest, but I can definitely imagine a scenario whereby someone who just starts learning the English language is receiving some useful info from a person having read this article. Maybe it's YOU who can help some friend of yours to acquire the English language the right way and AVOID all the pitfalls that we've been falling for and that have prevented us from developing natural English fluency from the outset: Learning meanings of individual words; Learning grammar rules and creating sentences by applying them; Translating directly from our native languages; and many more! Well, I know only too well that the worldwide dominance of the traditional grammar-translation way of teaching languages - English included - is so deeply ingrained in people's minds that you'll find it very hard (on most occasions - even impossible!) to convince people NOT TO learn vocabulary lists, NOT TO try to understand the exact meaning of new words and NOT TO analyze the syntax of sentences too deeply by trying to find the exact equivalent of the given English sentence in their native languages. It's a constant uphill battle, and most of the times you'll fail. It's worth a try, however, because if you do succeed in persuading your friend to try out the contextual way of learning the English language right from the start, they will NEVER develop the English fluency issues in the first place! So, where to begin? Well, I guess a very good place to start would be by understanding that it’s SUPER-IMPORTANT to learn English word combinations right from the start - there's no need to learn individual English words :!: Why? OK, here we go! ;-) (more…)

You Shouldn’t Learn Irregular Verbs This Way: Bring – Brought – Brought

Improving Your English is Simpler Than You Think!

If you’re a non-native English speaker working in an English speaking company, you may have gotten the impression by listening to those with better English than yours that you have to learn loads of specific English vocabulary in order to be able to fully function in your work environment. If you’re preparing to sit an English test or an exam – such as IELTS or CAE – you may believe that you have to dedicate all your efforts towards English grammar, syntax and irregular verbs. And if you aspire to learn to speak in English fluently so that you can simply communicate with other English speakers out there, you may also have this notion that you have to be able to discuss hundreds and thousands of various topics which would quite logically require you to learn a massive amount of new English vocabulary. All in all, you may believe that English improvement is: Super-hard, Inevitably based on studying textbooks, Demands exceptional intelligence and analytic mind! Is that so? Not really, my friend! ;-) In reality, while requiring lots of hard work, English improvement is MUCH EASIER than you think :!: (more…)

Watch Breaking Bad If You Want to Improve Your American English!

5 Ways to Practice Your Spoken English if You’re Desperate For English Conversations!

If you’re a foreign English speaker and you don’t get a lot of opportunities to speak in English with real people in real life, it’s quite understandable you’re going to be really desperate for some spoken practice. Well, it doesn’t have to be so doom and gloom! ;-) With a little bit of effort and imagination you can find plenty of opportunities to practice your spoken English, so without further ado please start familiarizing yourself with 5 ways to practice your spoken English that are especially relevant to those non-native English speakers who don’t work in an English speaking environment :!: (more…)

Learn Only ONE Way of Using New English Vocabulary Words at Any Given Time!

In this English Harmony video I’m going to respond to Meenu’s comment in which she explains her problem in relation to learning new English vocabulary words. You can see the full exchange below: I’m taking the liberty to elaborate on the whole issue in the video above, and I hope you’ll find it helpful, Meenu! ;-) So, if you’re having similar issues with learning new English vocabulary: (more…)

Lower Your Standards if You Want to Improve Your English Successfully!

You may have this idealistic image in your head as to what kind of English you should be speaking – grammatically super-correct, formal, rich and eloquent English spoken by high-class native English speakers – but achieving and maintaining such high spoken English standards may not be just unrealistic. It may also be very unhealthy to your confidence as an English speaker to constantly compare your existing level of English against your desired level of English in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and speed at which you speak because it will serve as a constant reminder of your shortcomings as an English speaker! You may believe that most people speak sub-standard English and it’s unacceptable for an intelligent person. You may have this perception that your English just HAS to sound like that spoken by native English speakers – and if it doesn’t, you’ll be always branded as an underachiever. And you may also strongly believe that text-book English taught to English students in schools and universities is the ONLY way forward and that the conversational English is just English for the masses and not for such a well-educated individual as you. Guess what? By upholding such unrealistically high standards you’re making it really hard for yourself to actually improve your English! (more…)

How to Deal With Situations When You Don’t Understand the Other English Speaker At All!

Share Your Humiliating English Conversation Experiences & Get Advice!

If you’ve visited my blog at least once, I bet you have some English fluency issues; here are a couple of stories I can share with you so that you fully understand what exactly I’m talking about! ;-) A few years ago I was looking for a new job, and at that time it was quite popular to hold the first round of interviews over the phone – obviously companies didn’t want to waste their time and effort on candidates falling short of the requirements. I’ve had had quite a few phone interviews before this particular one, so when I picked up the phone to hear a woman’s voice asking me if I’m free to talk about the direct sales position I was going for, I felt quite confident that I would perform fairly well! And that’s when it all started going downhill… For some reason I couldn’t understand (now that I’ve dealt with my fluency issues I actually understand it all quite well!) I just couldn’t find the right words to say. I started hesitating, I was stumbling upon words, and I was also making all sorts of stupid grammar mistakes although normally my English was fairly good. It all ended with the interviewer telling me that I should actually improve my English before applying for similar positions… Needless to say, I was mortified and I felt humiliated! :mad: And here’s another situation I found myself in a few years ago. (more…)

Contextual English Vocab Building: Using TheFreedictionary.com the SMART Way!

Ring Utility Company Phone Lines to Practice Your Spoken English!

If you can't watch the video below - listen to the audio version above! ;-) There are a lot of ways you can practice your spoken English in situations when you don’t have plenty of opportunities to speak with real people in real life: Speaking with yourself Shadowing English movies Watching all sorts of YouTube videos and repeating what you hear Doing English Harmony System’s speech exercising lessons There’s another way, however, to get your spoken English practiced in the comfort of your own home while at the same time speaking with another human being. Namely – speaking with someone over the phone! But hold on, what if you don’t have any English speaking people you could call? And surely if you know someone you might call, you wouldn’t be calling them every day now, would you? And that’s when the utility company support phone lines step in :!: Basically here’s what you have to do: (more…)

English Collocation: The Worst Case Scenario

Hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers :!: In today’s English Idiomatic Expression video we’re going to look at the following collocation: THE WORST CASE SCENARIO. It’s a way native English speakers (and also fluent foreign English speakers, of course!) refer to the worst possible turn of events, and traditionally we discuss such possibilities when: Trying to persuade someone to do something (Common, why are you afraid to go to the event, the worst case scenario is you being asked a question, and it’s no big deal really!) Discussing the various eventualities and trying to prepare for the worst (So, the worst case scenario is the whole computer network going down, see we need to buy another backup server!) Want to find out more about this particular English collocation? Then watch the video above (or listen to the audio just above the video!) and don’t forget to use this new English collocation in your own English conversations! Regards, Robby ;-)