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 Collocation: “Not so dissimilar from”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMl8KHmMNmg Today’s English collocation is quite unique. It’s a double negative ‘NOT so DISsimilar from’, and if you think about it, you’ll realize that ‘it’s quite similar to’ would convey pretty much the same meaning! Having said all this, however, I have to point out that double negations don’t necessary mean the very same thing as their positive statement counterparts. Let’s take, for example, the following two statements: “I’m not stupid” and “I’m smart”. Now, tell me please, do these two mean the very same thing? Well, even though it might seem so at first, in reality the first statement “I’m not stupid” is used in difference circumstances than the second one. You’re most likely to exclaim “I’m not stupid!” if someone treats you like a child and you want to point out that you’re very well capable of handling this or that particular job. “I’m smart” would be used in totally different situations – when you want to brag about something, for example. Same goes with the double negative “not so dissimilar from”. It’s most commonly used when you want to express your surprise at a particular person or thing turning out to be quite different from what you expected it to be in the beginning. (more…)

Spoken English Topics and Technical Aspects of Spoken English Exercising

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TULSesfUYJs Find It Hard to Do Spoken English Practice? Write It Down First! This video is a follow-up to the last video episode which was about the importance of practising spoken English with yourself in case you’ve got no-one to talk to! After the last episode I received quite a few e-mails asking what topics you can discuss with yourselves. I’ve come to realize that it’s not that easy for everyone to think of something to talk about so I decided to dedicate today’s video episode to various topics you can use as source of inspiration to kick-start your English practicing routine. But before you even attempt practicing English with yourself, you should remember the following. Don’t try to talk about something that is detached from reality. Don’t try to convince yourself that you should speak about something that you don’t actually take any interest in :!: A typical example of this would be taking some English learning material and reading a certain topic and then trying to create a monologue around that topic. Well, you may succeed and have a nice chat with yourself about, say, concepts of time and distance, and similar. On most occasions however, if you try to create a monologue around something that isn’t relevant for you personally, the chances are that you’ll find the very idea of such speech practicing very boring and you’ll give up after a while! :-( So the most important piece of advice to anyone who decides to engage in regular English monologues is the following – talk about something that reflects your interests, your personal and professional affairs, generally speaking – your life! And now let’s look at particular spoken English topics you can always count on not be become boring! (more…)

Speaking in Short Sentences? It’s Normal!

Are you often frustrated by the fact that despite being quite a well-spoken foreign English speaker you can’t always speak in full sentences? Are you even getting stuck in a middle of conversation because you WANT to finish a sentence but for some reason you just CAN’T? Let me tell you – you’re not alone. It’s quite normal! By the way – hadn’t you noticed that even native English speakers sometimes hesitate when they speak? When we write, we have all the time in the world to think over the word placement in a sentence. We can scribble out what we wrote and re-write it so that it sounds much better. As we write, we can formulate our thoughts precisely as we intend because we can take extra time to pick the most fitting words. And most importantly, we can compose nice, complete sentences to create an easy-to-understand message! When we speak, it’s a bit different story. Unless you’re a very eloquent foreign English speaker, your speech will be quite different from a written piece of text. Well, I've always held the opinion that the best way to write is to actually speak about the subject aloud and put it all down on paper. Still, when we speak, quite often our mind drifts away and we can’t articulate our thoughts exactly as we want. Especially – when we have to talk about something we’re not really familiar with! If it’s becoming a real issue, it has to be dealt with. But no matter what situation you find yourself in, it always helps to be aware of the fact that in real life English communication people often speak in short, often unfinished and broken sentences :!: (more…)

Fluency Star Case Study: Sergi and His English Fluency Improvement

Don’t Be Conscious Of Your Own English Conversations!

Probably the most important piece of advice for foreign English speakers who wish to improve their English fluency is to shift their focus from technical details of their speech to the actual conversation and the person they’re speaking with. You know, we foreigners often tend to over-analyze when we speak English and it can lead to making all sorts of stupid mistakes. Being a perfectionist isn't going to make you into a fluent English speaker, so I’d say it’s very, very important to learn how to let it go and speak without being conscious of the way you speak, the way you pronounce words, and finally – the actual words you choose when speaking! It’s even possible to speak fluent English with a limited active vocabulary, and as far as you don’t think about what you can’t say but just say what you can, you’ll be more conversationally fluent than some other person who might possess more formal knowledge yet they’re too conscious to put it to good use! In other words, it’s all about being fully involved when speaking with someone instead of adopting an observer’s role and scrutinizing your own speech :!: Well, I know, I know that it’s easier said than done, but you just have to keep trying. Every time you’re having a conversation with someone in English, you have to force yourself to forget about formal English knowledge and grammar rules, and just speak. (more…)

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 25- Offense

Customer Support & Service Industry English Phrases

Personally I've been working in various service industry positions for the better part of my working life: Shop-assistant. Bartender. Technical Support Agent. Been there, done that! ;-) Having spent many years dealing with clients on a daily basis, I know only too well how important effective communication is when dealing with customers. Not to mention getting your job in the first place! I mean, do you think your future employer is going to hire you if your spoken English isn’t up to scratch and you don’t know how to greet your customer and ask them what they’d like you to do for them? Also, considering that many companies will put you on probation before offering you a permanent position, it only stands to reason you should show great English communication skills when it comes to dealing with people. After all, customers are the lifeblood of the company you represent, and your employer won’t hesitate hiring someone else if customers are struggling to understand you. If the customer service you provide isn't good enough, why would they keep you, right? So, would you like to brush up on your spoken English skills so that you can provide an outstanding customer service? Well, I’m going to give you plenty of useful English phrases so that you can read them, speak them out loud, memorize them and then use them at work :!: (more…)

Want Solid Proof that Spoken English Self-practice Works? Check This Out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTNeyx3qAro

How to improve vocabulary in 30 days?

Back in 2012 when I was an English learner (which I still am because learning should never stop), I was scouring the web for some tips to improve my spoken English and vocabulary. I have heard since day one that idiomatic expressions and phrases are the core of spoken English and if learned properly, can make you a fluent English speaker like a native. All pumped up, I typed in “List of common Idiomatic Expressions and Phrases” and trust me my excitement met some positive responses from the search engine when I saw hundreds of result pages floating everywhere on my laptop screen. I clicked the one, then the next, and next, and next, next and so on. I was already with my pen and my notebook to note down some important notes and phrases so I can learn them later, but as my eyes scrolled down the screen the list of expressions went on and on. Had I started writing them down, I can say for sure I would still be learning till today. With the advancement of technology and internet, the scope has really diversified for many people out there; as a result, there is a number of bloggers on the internet today and everybody has their own list of most important phrases and idioms that would be useful for you. And tell you what? I think nobody is at fault in this. If you give me, Robby or any other English blogger to write down the most important list of idioms, phrases or vocabulary, we may list down some for you but it won’t match at all. English vocabulary is not a code or some mathematical formula which remains the same for a problem; it is rather a diverse topic which needs to be paid more concern to, avoiding the common mistakes non-natives usually make. Now if I wanted I could have just started something like this: "So here is the most important idioms and phrases you should learn: 1: Go an extra mile 2: Go through a rough patch. 3: know inside out . . . 100001: pass out: means to faint.” Well if I did so, the last phrase would have made into reality when one reads these many phrases in a single article, but don’t you worry, we never throw you these many long lists which get washed off the next day you learn. Now if you think learning these many phrases is impossible cause you are gonna forget it anyways, you are mistaken, my dear friends. I wrote a long article about this before where I explained how learning anything with context helps to learn better and faster, and remember longer. Robby knew it far before then I came to know so he built ‘The English Harmony System’ with the same concept of teaching English vocabulary with a context that follows spaced repetition technique to make your mind subconsciously acquire every phrase or vocabulary. Considering these problems faced by English learners, I created a "Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” where I will cover a single subject in an article and teach you vocabulary related to it. So basically, the articles are gonna be short and to the point, covering a few idioms or phrasal verbs with context, meaning and example. I will try to cover various areas of daily life so you can rest assured that the phrases you gonna learn down the line will come in handy. You just have to read all my articles thoroughly and practice the phrases with your own examples and trust me everything else will come naturally to you. I am sure you are gonna love it. So get ready for tomorrow because it’s gonna be fun. Sign up here to get it straight into your inbox (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//forms.aweber.com/form/28/1528169428.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, "script", "aweber-wjs-gh9mm2tmz")); Till then, take care and? Bye-bye.

33 Word Shortenings Any Foreign English Speaker Should Know!

Self-correction – an Integral Part of Your Spoken English Improvement Routine

If you’re a foreign English speaker frantically looking for a conversation partner online, my typical suggestion to you would be the following: Engage in a lot of self-practice on a daily basis. If you’re lucky enough to find someone you can speak with every now and then – go for it! Don’t stop speaking with yourself however, because that way you’ll keep developing your ability to VERBALIZE YOUR THOUGHTS which is crucial for effective communication. Now, based on the feedback I’ve been getting on my blog posts and videos, the two main reasons why you might find such self-practice difficult to maintain in long term are the following: You can’t think of what to talk about; There’s no-one to point out your mistakes. I don’t buy neither of the two reasons. If you think speaking with yourself is boring, how come I’ve been doing it for years on end and I still have loads to talk about when I voice my thoughts out loud? It would be the same as claiming you don’t have anything to think about! :grin: The second reason – lack of feedback and correction – is also just an excuse not to improve one’s ability to speak. Tell me honestly – do you ALWAYS get corrected when speaking with others in real life? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a strong notion that more often than not you rely on a thing called SELF-CORRECTION than on others’ feedback :!: And even if you don’t do it, you’d better start making conscious adjustments to your English speech if you want to experience any significant improvement to your ability to speak fluently and correctly! (more…)

English idiomatic expression: “Pretty much the same”

English Idiom: “Steer Clear”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiBNlMg6pdc Hello my friends non-native English speakers! Today we’re going to look at the following English idiom: STEER CLEAR and how to use it in your daily English conversations. So, first of all let’s do some Google search to validate this English expression and make sure that it actually exists. To accomplish that, we just need to enter the phrase STEER CLEAR into the Google search bar in quotation marks (it’s very important!) and hit “Enter”: As you can see, there are more than 6 million search results returned containing the phrase STEER CLEAR which means it’s a very valid English expression. Next, have a look at the top search results: (more…)

Mimicking – The Best Way to Learn English Collocations!

If you read my previous blog post about English collocations, you’ll remember that a collocation is a group of two or more words that are naturally used together in written and spoken English – such as “a tough decision”, “renewable energy”, “foreseeable future” or “to draw a comparison between.” Many collocations are strong, which means that you if you replace one of the words with a synonym, native English speakers would notice that it doesn’t sound right. For instance, if you say “replenishable energy”, it would sound a bit odd because “renewable energy” has been accepted worldwide as a standard way to describe energy sources like wind, water and solar energy. Many collocations aren’t that strong. For instance if you say “a hard decision”, it sounds absolutely fine despite “a tough decision” being a standard collocation you’d find in English Grammar books. But why is it important for us, foreign English speakers? Why should we care about English collocations? The reason is simple enough. Bonds that keep words together in collocations also determine word PATTERNS in spoken and written English in general :!: We may be under impression that collocations were invented by English teachers in order to annoy students and make their studies harder. (Frankly speaking, I can partially agree with this if collocations are looked at as a separate section of English language studies instead of being used as an integral part of speaking and writing English.) In reality if we, foreigners, want to achieve English fluency we need to incorporate learning collocations in our daily English improving routine as part of acquiring new vocabulary and phraseology. You just can't ignore natural English word patterns otherwise your English will sound weird, simple as that! But don’t cram long collocation lists into your brain. Be selective! (more…)

A Quote From “Lies” That Made Me Realize Something…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP15k--P9jo Currently I’m reading the third book in “GONE” series called “LIES” – it’s a cool ultra-blue book (each book in the “GONE” series has the sides covered with color which I’d never seen before!) and it focuses on further developments within FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). What’s FAYZ? Here’s a short synopsis: Adults are gone. They’ve just disappeared. Perdido Beach has been sealed off the rest of the world by a gigantic dome and kids are forced to fend for themselves. Some kids have developed mutant powers – fire-shooting, anti-gravity – you name it! This might sound like a far-stretched scenario, and I have to admit that we’re little likely to encounter mutant kids in real life. Some things, however, are almost universal, and it’s the way we, humans, behave in emergency situations and unusual circumstances. Whether it’s FAYZ or simply how you react in a situation when your own safety is threatened on the street, for example – that’s when the TRUE “YOU” is being revealed. Such situations shape our personalities, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about in this video! You’re welcome to tune in and you’re also welcome to post comments below! Happy reading, Robby ;-)

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

Speaking English is Just Like Playing With Lego Bricks!

A few days ago I received the following comment on the English Harmony Facebook page: Your method, learning English through idioms, phrases, proverbs, etc. is so much fun! It’s like playing with Lego bricks! Really! You see, you took most of the grammar (which for most is a party-breaker) out and made it so much less intimidating. You completely changed my view on English. Now I don't see sentences as complex structures (teeming with grammar lawfulness) but rather as different ready-to-go pieces (that is idioms, phrasal verbs, etc.) put together. Just like Lego bricks! That's why I find it like playing with it. You take on brick/part which is at your disposal and then choose which one will go along (with the same method: see what you have and try to make the best combination to convey your message). Thank you for that! I really, really liked this comment – not just because its author agrees with me on the effectiveness of contextual English learning, but also because it puts a completely different spin on the whole thing and makes you realize that English learning and improvement has to be perceived as a fun game rather than a boring chore! (more…)

How to Sound More Native-like in English: Start Saying “Yeah” and “Nah”!

What Typing Has in Common With Spoken English Performance

Yes, in this article I’m going to draw parallels between using the keyboard to input text into your PC or laptop AND speaking in English as your second language. Do you think I’m mad? Do you think I’m trying to make all different sorts of connections between things that don’t really go together just so that I could publish more content on my blog? Well, you’re right – I have been finding commonalities between seemingly unrelated concepts. I published an article called 12 Reasons Why Spoken English is Just Like Playing a Guitar. I created the Fluency Gym Coach Program where hundreds of parallels are drawn between our fitness performance and spoken English practice. If you think about it a bit deeper, however, you’ll realize I’m not such a nutcase as you might have thought when seeing this blog post’s headline. You see, all the previously mentioned activities – playing an instrument, using our body and also using a keyboard for text input purposes are PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES. Spoken English is also a VERY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY because you use your mouth to produce sounds and your brain constantly works in unison with your sound producing organs so that you can verbalize your thoughts. So read the rest of this article to find out exactly what the two types of physical activities – TYPING and SPEAKING in English have in common. (more…)

What’s the Best Way to Go About Shadowing English Videos?

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Have you tried the shadowing technique whereby you try and mimic English speakers from TV shows and YouTube videos? Are you finding it hard and you don’t really know how to go about it? Then watch this video where I’m addressing English shadowing related concerns raised by one of my blog followers! And obviously - if you've got any comments or questions about this thing called SHADOWING - please publish them in the comments section below my friends! Chat soon, Robby ;-)

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 9- Debating

This article is part of the 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course. Sign up here to get every lesson in your inbox for free: (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//forms.aweber.com/form/28/1528169428.js"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, "script", "aweber-wjs-gh9mm2tmz"));   Hey everyone out there, How are you doing today? Welcome back to another chapter of our "Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course" where you'll learn some new vocabulary daily with context and examples so as to improve your overall natural fluency and sound more natural. (more…)

4 Reasons Why Studying English at School Won’t Make You a Fluent English Speaker

What’s Common Between Running and Speaking English?

I’m into running for nearly 3 years. Two, sometimes three times a week I’m doing a circuit of around 5 kilometers. And my loyal friend Roger – the mischievous beagle – is always doing the 5K with me. He’d do more; I’m sure, because when we run back home it’s me who’s out of breath – not him! And the amazing thing about running that I wanted to share with you is exactly about what I just said – being out of breath! You see, throughout all the years that I’ve been on the run, I was having issues. I was always having pain in my left side. You know, the kind of pain we’ve all had when having too much food and going for some exercise afterwards – be it swimming or running. But I was having the pain all the time – regardless the size of my last meal and how long ago I had it. As a result, I was also having issues with stamina. Most of the times I could run quite fast and keep at my normal pace despite being in that constant, mild pain. However, on some occasions it would get so bad I could barely drag myself back home. A couple of times I nearly passed out – but I always put it down to a bad day or just said to myself – sure it’ll be OK next time! (more…)

Find It Hard to Do Spoken English Practice? Write It Down First!

Top 15 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Foreigners Settling Down in an English Speaking Country

1. Be realistic about the level of interest in your national background by others. Be proud of your origins, but don’t be obsessed with telling every single person you meet about your country, your nationality, how “How are you” sounds in your native language, the name of your president, your favorite national soccer team… People will listen to you just to be polite, but don’t forget that for someone living in an English speaking country like the US, Australia or the UK, the name of your country might not ring any bells at all! Personally I quite like it when people don’t ask questions about my origins right off the bat and I’ve realized by now that whenever they DO ask that question “Where are you from?” right after you introduce yourself, it’s just small-talk really. So I think we foreigners should be realistic about the interest of locals in our culture and we shouldn’t be too enthusiastic! In my current job, for instance, I got two know two girls a couple of weeks ago and they didn’t seem to notice the fact that I was a foreigner. Not that they couldn’t tell it, but our conversations never went that far. Only recently they showed interest in my background, so I think it’s natural to speak about those topics when you get to know someone better rather than boasting to everyone how cool your country is! Many years ago I used to work with a bunch of Romanian lads, and believe me – there was nothing more annoying than listening to hours long stories of their home country and how great life was back there, and how miserable their situation is in Ireland… For Christ’s sake, will you get a grip on yourselves?!? Don’t take me wrong – I’m not saying there’s something wrong with being proud of your nationality, not at all! My point is – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and maybe you’ll realize the conversation is boring for your conversation partner. IMPORTANT! -> Why I'm highlighting parts of text in RED? 2. Stop spotting mistakes in native English speakers’ conversations and pointing them out to others. There is no such thing as correct English! English is spoken differently in many countries and regions so don’t be the perfectionist telling everyone how awful locals speak, and how grammatically wrong some of the most commonly used local phrases are. Oxford English and real English are hundreds of miles apart, and you’ll be more practical by learning spoken English as it’s spoken in the country you live in than spotting mistakes and pointing out that according to proper English standards this or that particular thing doesn’t sound right. I can tell you one thing I’ve heard quite often in the local Latvian community when we’ve touched the topic of English learning and improving – “Irish themselves don’t speak correct English!” I think it’s rather a handy excuse not to improve one’s English (if the locals don’t speak correctly, how they can accuse me of speaking wrong?), or just trying to show off one’s academic English knowledge which actually has much smaller practical application when going about the daily life. We, foreigners, should realize one thing – theoretical correctness has little importance in dealing with real life situations. So don’t be the perfectionist by keeping saying “Has it been done?” if you hear everyone else around you using a much simpler colloquial phrase “Is it done?” Also it’s important to understand that native English speakers don’t make mistakes because they lack spoken English skills. Their mistakes are “natural”, and we can’t use it as an excuse not to improve our English! (more…)

13 Music Idioms- Learning with Theme

I love music, who doesn’t? Isn’t it? It has a soothing and healing power which helps us relax and free our mind from the worldly negativity. It also has served as a universal language between people, which could not be restricted by the boundaries of a nation or religion. (more…)