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.

English Harmony System

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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!

English Idiomatic Expression: “Run the Risk of…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6URoB2eVnY If you’ve been ignoring the power of English idiomatic expressions, you’re running the risk of not being able to express yourself in a native-like way! Today’s expression is “to run the risk of”, and I’m sure you noticed that I used this phrase in the previous sentence, didn’t you? ;-) When you learn this idiomatic expression, don’t try to analyze it too much, don’t try to make mental notes of this phrase being yet another one of those featuring the verb ‘to run’ (similar to “to run off” or “to run out of something”) and definitely don’t try to put all those idiomatic expressions containing the verb ‘to run’ under the same category! If you’re anything serious about your English fluency, you must look at every new phrase and expression individually, so this one – “to run the risk of” – is ONLY EVER to associate with words that it would go with in a natural conversation: (more…)

Check Out My First EVER Interviews – All About Me, English Fluency & How To Stop Struggling When Speaking in English!

 Recently I got interviewed by two English teachers for their websites – Ben who lives in Spain and Nate who’s settled down in Japan. These are my first interviews I’ve ever done, and as you can imagine, I had to use some of my own English fluency management strategies to keep a cool head, gather my thoughts and speak fluently because stress levels were high – especially in the beginning of those interviews! :grin: Listen to my interview with Ben HERE! And here you can watch 2 YouTube videos containing fragments from my interview with Ben: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5ZWgF1pCy8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTQ39kQxee8 Click HERE to listen to me talking with Nate! What you can expect to hear in those interviews is pretty much everything about my background as a foreign English speaker – starting from my years long struggling to speak English fluently and ending with useful tips for my fellow foreigners on how to maintain fluent English speech. You'll also find out in those interviews: what is a "writing mode" of your mind and why it prevents you from speaking English fluently (interview with Ben) why speaking with yourself is the best way to improve your English when there's no-one to talk to (interview with Nate) and a whole lot more! So if you've got nothing to do on this Friday night (or any other day of the week), sit down at your laptop or PC and listen to me spilling the beans about what real English fluency is all about: Listen to my interview with Ben HERE! Click HERE to listen to me talking with Nate! Let me know what you think in the comments below! ;-)

How to Learn English Synonyms and Antonyms Effectively

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq0rmbwJ78o

Don’t Learn Complicated English Tenses TOO Soon!

I’m a Useless English Teacher Because I Make Mistakes… And I Should Go Back to Farm!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfZe55fbhVM The concept of WRONGNESS of making mistakes while speaking or writing in English is something that’s permeated the English teaching industry and it’s lead so many non-native English speakers to believe that they suck at English unless they can make their speech and their English writing style PERFECT. Just picture the typical English class. The teacher (who speaks perfectly, of course!) is standing at the front of the class and the poor students are crouched over their desks DREADING to hear the test results. Why this fear? Simply because their ability to perform as English speakers is judged based on their MISTAKES! It’s so wrong that I want to start screaming just thinking about it!!! They’re looking closely at your mistakes while at the same time almost dismissing your achievements, and what do you think this kind of approach results into? Yes, that’s right – ANXIETY, LACK OF CONFIDENCE and total DISBELIEF that one they you can actually become a fluent English speaker. I’ve figured it out a long time ago, and ever since I’ve been adopting quite the opposite approach when speaking in English myself and providing advice to others who want to better their spoken English fluency and also writing. MAKE AS MANY MISTAKES AS YOU CAN! That’s the mantra I’m going by, and while you might be skeptical about it at first, you’ll definitely realize there’s a big wisdom behind it – especially when reading the following articles: (more…)

English Idiom: “To Your Heart’s Content”

Future In The Past – Often Ignored But Very Useful!

Have you ever heard of Future in the Past Tense? The chances are – you haven’t! It’s quite weird, but it’s true – many English Grammar books and English learning websites simply ignore Future in the Past! So here’s how it works – whenever you’re re-telling past events, the word WILL becomes WOULD – when referring to future during your story. Example: After the first week in gym I decided I WOULD never quit! Before I had learned this simple grammar rule about using Future in the Past, I would say the above sentence using the word WILL: After the first week in gym I decided I WILL never quit it! How wrong was I… And how wrong are thousands of other foreign English speakers! Yes, I’ve met quite fluent English speakers in my life who still kept on making the same mistake – using WILL when describing future events from past’s perspective. (more…)

Speak Really LOUD and Get Your English Fluency Back in Check!

Over the course of the last few years I’ve come up with a great number of English fluency management strategies ranging from slowing down your speech to trying to speak as fast as possible and trying to make as many mistakes as you possibly can. There’s also such fluency improvement techniques as: Proving to yourself that you are in fact a fluent English speaker by way of logical argumentation Developing a certain degree of IGNORANCE towards other people’s opinions Accepting your current English fluency limitations Clearing your mind completely and speaking without any emotional involvement whatsoever …or even Speaking with a HARD foreign accent! And, to tell you the truth, up until recently I thought I’d looked at every possible angle of the English fluency issues leaving no stone unturned. I was under the impression you couldn’t possibly think of something fluency improvement related that I hadn’t already written on my blog or made a video about! But guess what? I proved myself wrong! A couple of days ago when I was doing my usual spoken English self-practice, I did something that radically improved my fluency with an immediate effect. And that SOMETHING was something so simple that it blew my mind! I mean – how come I hadn’t thought about it throughout all these years while constantly speaking with myself and trying out everything imaginable starting from speaking with a hard foreign accent and ending with focusing on certain key sounds to get my fluency back in check? Alright, let’s not try and keep the suspense going because the tile of this article gave it away anyway – basically what I’m talking about here is speaking LOUD. And I mean – REALLY loud, just like Rich Piana does in his YouTube videos! (more…)

New English Vocabulary Word Phenomenon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmrcsrNIaHE Hi guys, In today’s video I’m discussing the following phenomenon which occurs when you learn new English vocabulary: some obscure English word or phrase you’d NEVER heard before, suddenly starts appearing everywhere – in news articles, in radio and TV shows, and even English speakers around you start using this word… Despite you having had never noticed it before! Is it weird or what? Here’s a typical example: I had recently learnt a new English phrase from a guy who lives in Canada ‘in my book’ which means ‘in my opinion’. At the time I thought it might be a more regional expression so I didn’t even think of trying to use it in my own daily English conversations with other people at work. And guess what? The very next day at work my Irish colleague used that expression when speaking with me! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “For a good while”

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZu2eY5jMcA Hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! :-) A few days ago I re-opened my Skype-based English fluency coaching program Fluency Star and needless to say, the available places filled in quickly enough and I had to close it down for another 2 months while I’m working with my new students. But wait… I don’t actually like the term “students”. It sounds too traditional – almost as if I’m putting myself on a pedestal and forcing those who I teach to look up to me. That kind of an approach has never worked in favor of those who are being taught no matter what discipline we look at – math, science or English – you name it! Why? First and foremost – it’s because the teacher is just showing off his or her superior skills and knowledge thus leaving the poor student in the same position where they were previously. (more…)

What to Do If I Find Spoken English Self-Practice Boring…

Shocking Reality About Foreign Accent and Fluent English

Do you speak English with a foreign accent? The chances are that you do because you arrived on my blog which is dedicated to foreign English speakers! Do you hate your accent and wish you’d never been born in a foreign country? Before you answer this question – think twice, because what you’re about to discover in this video episode might change your perception regarding your foreign accent and pronunciation! Watch the 24# Video Episode where I’m discussing the connection between English pronunciation and English fluency. And if you can’t watch the video for some technical reasons – you can read the video’s script below! (more…)

FGC Goal #1: American Collocation #9: ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnsbzJXjunE Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Good morning on this wonderful Saturday morning! :grin: Saturday mornings are ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE the same as working day mornings for me. I still have to record a video and publish it on my YouTube channel and write a blog post for this blog, so there’s no real difference in terms of my morning routine – getting up at 5:40 AM, having a breakfast, recording a video… The simple fact, however, that I don’t have to be ready to get into the car at 8:00 AM and go to work makes a world of difference to my mental state! Not that I wouldn’t be able to motivate myself to do the right things every day, it’s just that when you don’t have to go do work, it almost feels as if there’s something big and exciting going to happen! You mightn’t even have planned anything in particular for your day off, but it still gives that added dimension to your life! I, for example, don’t even get to sleep much longer on weekend mornings than on working day mornings; I wake up before 6:00 AM no matter which day of the week it is, yet it’s always easier for me to get out of the bed on a weekend morning for some reason or another. Anyway, today’s American English phrase is ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE and it’s one of those self-repetitious sayings that don’t necessarily make sense yet they’re handy to use in conversations for the simple reason that they sound good! (more…)

Do You Really NEED to Improve Your Spoken English?

It may sound like a completely mad question on an English improving blog. Especially taking into account I’m a passionate proponent of English speaking practice as the main activity for improving anyone’s English. What you probably don’t know about me is that I’m also a vehement proponent of practicality in all aspects of life with English being not an exception. I strongly believe that you are what you do and regarding English improving it translates into your English is what you do :!: To put it simply, you have to look at it from the following perspective. It’s your daily activities that determine which aspects of English you’re relying upon most. If you live in a foreign country and use English mostly for surfing the Net and watching English TV channels, that is what you actually need your English for. Also if you don’t get many opportunities to communicate with other English speakers, you won’t be needing spoken English skills as badly as someone who has moved to an English speaking country or works, for instance, as a cell centre operator supporting English speaking customers. To dispel any confusion that might arise from what I just said clashing with my usual “English is a tool for communication first and foremost!”, please note that my blog and the whole English Harmony project is dedicated to those foreign English speakers who need to speak English regularly, but struggle with it. The point I’m trying to make in this blog post is the following – if you don’t need to communicate using English because of specific circumstances, probably you shouldn’t be overly concerned about improving your spoken English (unless you need it in the foreseeable future, of course!) (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “To Cross One’s Mind”

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…)

Developing Your Ability to Use All Those Phrases & Idioms in Real Conversations

Counting in English Helps Your Fluency!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR14ygdJkWg Believe it or not, aside from running the English Harmony blog, I have a full time job! I work in a knitwear manufacturing company, and my job involves packing customers’ orders so there’s a lot of counting going on. Sometimes I spend entire days looking at order printouts and calling out product codes and quantities to myself while I’m packing the respective garments. Can you guess where this is all leading to? Yes, I do all counting and number crunching in English :!: “Is it a big deal?” you may ask. “Why should I bother myself with counting in English while working in similar conditions? I use English when I need to talk to someone, but other than that I’m happy to use my native language when being on my own and doing mundane tasks at work!” With all due respect, my dear blog reader, but I have to disagree! Partially it's because I always tend to disagree with popular beliefs and assumptions, but for the most part it's because it's very IMPORTANT to develop one's ability to THINK in English. So read on to find out WHY counting merchandise at work or calling our product codes to yourself in English is beneficial to your English fluency :!: (more…)

“What Are the Most Commonly Used English Words?” is the Wrong Question!

Many of my fellow foreigners arrive to my blog while searching for the most commonly used English words, and there’s a good chance that you may be one of them! ‘The top 100 most commonly used English words’, ‘top 500 English words’, ‘English word frequency lists’ – such and similar keywords are used by thousands of foreign English speakers eager to improve their English fluency. But are these English word lists any good? Do they offer good value in terms of improving one’s ability to speak fluently? Frankly speaking, such frequency lists don’t provide a lot of practical value – if any! Why? Fair enough – give me a few moments and I’ll show you exactly why! ;-) (more…)

Can Present Continuous Substitute Present Simple Tense?

I’ve discussed usage of the Present Continuous Tense in a number of grammar video lessons and the conclusion so far is that this English Grammar Tense is very, very widely used. You can use Present Continuous to describe past events, talk about future arrangements and of course, use it to describe actions going on at this very moment. The latter one is the typical use of Present Continuous and there was a time I thought it’s the only one. However, you should never assume that something is set in stone when it comes to English grammar, and especially – the Present Continuous Tense! It appears that it can also replace Present Simple on certain occasions, were you aware of that? Well, it might come as a surprise, but nonetheless it’s true and if you hear someone say “She’s always doing three things at once” or “I’m constantly arguing with her, I just can’t stand her!” it doesn’t mean it’s bad English grammar. You see, following the formal English Grammar rules, you’d use Present Simple with reoccurring activities, because that’s what it says when you open any English Grammar book. Present Simple Tense is to be used with known facts, routines, habits and permanent things. Personally I have a good visual memory (although sometimes it can be a bad thing) and I still remember a sample sentence in one of my first English Grammar books explaining Present Simple – “Sun rises in the east”. It’s a known truth, a permanent, regular activity, so we use Present Simple and the same goes with other things that are of a permanent nature. Where we live, what we usually do, our daily routines – it’s all the Present Simple Tense. “I live in a three bedroom house. On most days I get up at 6:00 AM and have oat porridge for breakfast. I drive to work because it’s not accessible by public transport.” The Present Continuous Tense, however, describes actions that are happening right now, not general things. So for example, “I drive to work every day” is a general statement about something I do on a regular basis, whereas “I’m driving to work” would imply that I’m sitting in the car right at this very moment and driving to work. Normally I would also add “at the moment” or a similar time indicator if I’m on phone, for instance. I would say “I can’t really talk now; I’m driving to work at the moment”. This is the way English Grammar books explain differences between the two tenses, and by and large it’s correct. In real life spoken English, however, things can’t be always strictly separated. I know that’s what English students want – to get rid of any ambiguity so that it would be easier to pass English tests. Every English Grammar Tense should serve only its own purpose and by learning the respective rules of usage we can construct nice and correct English sentences. Sounds like every English student’s dream, doesn’t it? Well, after you’ve spent some time with native English speakers in natural English speaking environment, you’ll realize that English tenses are sometimes used in a way you don’t expect! ;-) “I’m always driving to work along the highway, but occasionally I take back roads for a change.” Please note that I used Present Continuous where Present Simple would be normally used, and if we stick to formal English Grammar rules to the letter, you may want to re-write the above sentence and make it into “I always drive to work along the highway.” It’s a typical routine activity; it’s something that I always do – as indicated by the very word “always” – so it requires Present Simple, right? (more…)

Funny English Phrases #3 – Money & Finance

Topics For Practising Spoken English

You don't have anyone to talk to in English? Don't despair! You can actually practice spoken English with yourself! Does it sound weird to you? Well, it's not as bad as you initially thought! Image this - when you're taking shower in the morning, or walking your dog - you're on your own and as far as no-one is close by - you're perfectly fine talking with yourself! And by the way - it's a great way of organizing your thoughts and improving spoken English at the same time! So here are a few topics you can use if you don't know what you can chat with yourself about!  Talk about what you have done by now since the moment you woke up in the morning. Remember all the events that have happened to you – how you were driving or went by bus to work, what happened on the way – if you saw some interesting person, if there were new road works on the way. Talk about the weather this morning – if it’s nice or rainy and how you feel about it.  Plan your day – this is actually a good moment to remember everything you have to do during the forthcoming day! Make an appointment to the doctor, call to the bank about rejected direct debit from you electricity company, write an e-mail to your boss asking about your holidays, book airplane tickets – there’s always more or less to do everyday! While going through the list you can talk about those things in detail and predict how the events are likely going to evolve and how you’ll act.  Recall pleasant events from your past – your childhood, your teenage years and go through them. You’ll be amazed how many long forgotten things you can bring up in your memory! And the excitement is going to heal the English speaking issue as well – your speech will become more fluent as a result. Remember your school friends you haven’t seen a long time and all the mischievous things you’ve done together – crazy college years…  If you’re going for a meeting with someone - speak with yourself about the main points of the conversation. By doing so you’ll be better prepared for the real talk. Is it an interview, a meeting, or just a talk to your boss – it is always good to be prepared and now the main points.  Analyze your feelings at this moment – are you happy? Are you sad? Are you excited? What made you feel so? A number of things are going to appear in the process to talk about and maybe you’ll settle some issue eventually! Act like a psychologist for yourself! Try to tell yourself that after all there’s no point of being annoyed about something you cannot change and make your mind brighter.  Talk about the latest movie you’ve seen or the book you’ve read. Go through the events and describe them in detail – this is another powerful tool if it seems to you that there’s nothing to talk about.  After some entertaining night out or weekend trip to somewhere you’ll have plenty of things to remember – whether you met new people, something interesting happened, or you got into a funny situation.  If you have a relationship you can talk about your partner – remember all the good and the bad things you’ve been through together, think about how important he or she is to you and if you had a row the night before – think about who was right and who was wrong and what’s going to happen when you return home in the evening. Robby P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Idiomatic Expression: “Within a matter of…”

English Idiomatic Expression: “To be honest with you”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9lYms9kyAw To be honest with you guys, I didn’t have a clue as to what exactly I was going to say when I sat down to record today’s video… I just winged it (it’s one of those American slang expressions I learned while watching Desperate Housewives, and it means ‘to improvise’) , and I’m quite hopeful you’re not going to be too critical of me! Today’s phrase actually happens to be ‘to be honest with you’ – which is how I actually started off this article – and it’s a perfect way of establishing trust and connecting to your conversation partner or the audience you’re facing. You’re basically appealing to the other person’s conscience by showing that you’re ready to be completely honest and upfront with them, and even if there’s nothing for you to hide from your conversation partner, the phrase ‘to be honest with you’ still works at a subconscious level. At least I’d like to think so! :grin: (more…)

Is It OK to Use Conversational Phrases in Formal English Writing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obIvp1iUrjs I got a comment on my blog post Sometimes It Makes More Sense to Acquire English Vocab as Part of Figurative Speech from Binh Thanh asking the following question: “Can we use these phrases in formal writing?” Now, for those who’re not familiar with the concept of idiomatic expressions and English collocations, here’s a very brief intro: English language actually consists mostly of word GROUPS; Phrases, expressions and idioms (otherwise known as collocations) form a big part of those word groups; If you learn new English vocab as part of every-day expressions and idiomatic language, you’re so much more likely to speak fluently! Now, Binh Thanh’s comment highlights a very long-standing myth, namely -formal, written English is a completely different beast altogether, and when you write formal correspondence or reports, for example, you have to write in a completely different way you speak. Personally I call BS on that! (more…)