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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30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 23- Bite off more you can chew!

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")); Hello everyone out there, Did you practice yesterday’s expressions? I know you did and I can see it because we made it so far. Hence, I welcome back again to all my dear English learners in today’s chapter of our “Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” where you'll learn something new every day with context and examples, and so will you today. So without further ado, let's get down to the business and read today's context: Context Jane: Hey, how are you doing? Ben: Can’t complain! Jane: What happened? You seem so tense. Has anything to do with the changes that are you facing now in your relationship with your wife? Ben: No, not at all. By God's grace, everything is good between us now. Jane: Good for you. Ben: Yeah. Jane: You are my friend Ben; please never hesitate to ask me for any help whenever you need it. Ben: That’s really sweet of you, but I think I have bitten off more than I could chew. The manager went on a vacation and there was no one else to manage his part of work so I suggested transferring his activities to me while he will be out of office. I thought, that if he sees my dedication and hard work, I will get my promotion I have been waiting for so long. Now I don't know how I will manage to do all that work. Jane: Is that all? Why do you worry so much? I know the work is mainly related to accounts and you must be knowing that my brother Josh is an accounting expert. It will hardly take 15 minutes for him to do it. You just give me the papers and I will ask him to help you. Ben: Oh Jane, thank you so much. You saved my day. Jane: Anytime! Expression- Bite off more than you chew Meaning- It means when one takes on too much responsibility or accepts more commitment than one can handle. Example- A: I have to go to the English course and after that to the music academy. B: Your mom told me that you are also joining the sports academy next month. Are you? A: Yeah, I was thinking about that because I also like sports as much as I like music. B: Make sure you don’t bite off more you can chew. Did you have any situations in the past where you bit off more than you could chew? I hope today’s lesson added some new vocabulary to your arsenal of active vocabulary which will be definitely useful in your daily life. Make sure you read this article thoroughly and practice it with your own examples so as they become your second nature. See you tomorrow with some new topic and vocabulary. Till then keep learning and improving. Take care and? Bye-bye. 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"));

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSjDTmOdaOw 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…)

Can You Learn American English by Learning American Phrases & Idioms?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAq0VluuoBo I recorded this video as a response to a comment I received today, and here’s the comment in question: Hey Robby, can you make a complete list of phrasal verbs, idioms and slang used in American English. I want this because I wanna learn American English. The question looks simple and straightforward enough, and instead of recording a lengthy video I could have just posted lists of American phrases just like these: American Phrases American English Phrases There is another dimension to this question, however, and it’s all got to do with what it actually means to LEARN AMERICAN ENGLISH. (more…)

Why Desire to Translate is Irresistible & How to Deal With It

My Phone-call to Airline Support & All the Embarrassing Experiences

A couple of days ago I had to make a phone call to my local airline company’s Ryanair support line to sort out a few queries over my family’s summer flight to our home country. I got through to the call center within a matter of seconds for the simple reason that it was one of those premium rate phone numbers. I doubt that would be the case had it been a normal phone line or a toll-free phone number; most likely I would have to spend at least five minutes on the line! Anyway, my customer support agent was a Russian girl so the first thought that crossed my mind was – “Cool! It’s going to be quite easy to speak with her because she’s also a foreign English speaker – just like me!” You see, the thing is that on some occasions it’s easier to speak with another fellow foreign English speaker than a native English speaker, so I thought this chat was going to be a walk in the park. A short time later, I realized it wasn’t the case with this particular conversation. I was having a hard time understanding if the person on the other end of the phone line actually understood me, so I constantly had to second-guess her replies which made the conversation not-so easy, to say the least! (more…)

Don’t Even TRY Watching Common English Mistakes Videos on YouTube!

How English Idiomatic Expressions Helped Me Deal With a REALLY Stressful Conversation

I’d been mentally preparing myself for the upcoming conversation for DAYS. I’d gone through all the things I was going to say to my boss all over and over again. I’d wanted to talk to him on multiple occasions yet I just couldn’t pluck up the courage to do it and I just kept talking myself out of it (now it’s not the right time… now I’m too busy…) When I finally got around to talking to him, it all happened kind of suddenly and I had actually forgotten every little detail I wanted to talk about. Sure enough, I knew what I wanted to ask, but I hadn’t gone through the more detailed plan of the upcoming conversation which I’d worked out previously. So, when I stood right in front of him asking if he’s five minutes to spare, the stress levels in my body were hitting all-time heights! My heart was palpitating. Adrenaline was being pumped through my veins at an accelerated rate. Needless to say, I found it quite hard to start the conversation because the stress levels were most definitely affecting my ability to say what I wanted to say in English! Luckily my chat with the boss didn’t turn out to be a total failure because I’ve been learning hundreds upon hundreds of English idiomatic expressions over the years, and the accumulative effect of such practice is such that it enables you to speak in English automatically and without much thinking (the English Harmony System works based on the same principles, by the way!). Here’s how English idiomatic expressions helped me conduct the conversation in a fairly normal way: (more…)

How Many English Phrases Do I Have to Learn to Become Fluent?

The typical question people ask me is: “How many English words do I have to learn to be fluent?” to which I always respond with – “It’s completely the WRONG question!!!” It’s not about the number of words you learn – it’s about how well you can use them in combination with each other! Basically it’s PHRASES and SENTENCES I’m talking about, and please read this article if you’re completely new to this whole concept of word groups and phrases. But those of you who are very well aware of how learning English phraseology helps your English fluency, may start wondering about the number of phrases required to achieve a certain degree of fluency in English. Is it 100 phrases that will make you fluent? Or maybe it’s 300? The English Harmony System, for example, contains 1350 English phrases, so is that how many you need to learn before you can consider yourself a fluent foreign English speaker? Well, guess what? English fluency is something you can’t really put a figure on! You can’t really quantify the amount of English phraseology you need to acquire in order to ensure you can speak fluently about any given topic. There are certain aspects of English phraseology acquisition, however, that will make your task of English improvement so much more effective, so keep reading this article to find out more about it :!: (more…)

Unnatural Collocations and Wrong Mental Associations

I've highlighted the importance of learning English collocations in many of my previous blog posts; this time let’s look at what happens if you create wrong associations in your mind between words in English as well as in your own language. If it doesn’t sound believable, just think of such quite a realistic situation. An ESL student is learning how to conjugate the verb ‘to be’ so he’s reciting the string of words “I am, you are, he, she, it is, we are, you are, they are…” in order to memorize the personal pronouns with the respective form of the verb ‘to be’. Now, when the student has repeated the aforementioned sequence of words for a good number of times, it imprints itself into his mind, and the desired effect has been achieved. Of course, for those words to stick with the student permanently, he needs to go back to them the next day, and then after a few more days – that’s the basic principle of spaced repetition. Anyway, the job is done, and the English student is now capable of using the verb ‘to be’ in real life conversations, isn’t that right? All right, fair enough! But now let’s try to remember how many times you’ve heard a foreign English speaker mix up the two personal pronouns – ‘he’ and ‘she’ – when speaking? I would say it happens quite often, and by the way – haven’t you made the same mistake at some stage during a quick chat in English? I have, and I have my own theory on why it happens. It’s all because wrong association has been created between the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ when repeating the words “… he, she, it is…” :!: You’re training your mouth to pronounce those two words together in one phrase and later on even years after you were just a beginner English learner, you may catch yourself saying things like “You know, I haven’t seen her before. He… sorry, she… hmm… she is Jennifer’s sister and is going to work here for the next half year while Jen is away.” Had there been a strong separate connection created between words ‘she is and ‘he is’ followed by a contextual example or an abstract image of a male and female, you wouldn’t be making such mistakes. Your subconscious mind would be used to describing activities where females are involved as “she is…”, so I’ll say it once again – it’s all about unnatural collocations, and I have loads of advice in store for you on how to avoid creating wrong associations in your mind! Did it pique your interest? Then read on! (more…)

No.1 Secret to speak English fluently and confidently

Terrible English Fluency Issues? You’re Not Alone In This!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4b1Ji2qFQ0

Stop Preparing Speech In Your Head Beforehand!

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 4- Health and Medicine

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 there, How are you doing today? I hope you have read the previous articles of this series; well if not, go read them first and come back here again soon. I am back again with another topic of our "Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” which has received some good response till now and I wish it keeps going like this. (more…)

Idiomatic Expressions: Why I’m Highlighting Some Bits of Text in Red in My Blog Posts

Here’s the short answer – they’re bits of spoken English any foreign English speaker should know to communicate effectively! They’re word combinations used by native English speakers and by using them you’re going to make your spoken English sound more natural and native-like. English collocations, phrasal verbs and sayings all fall under the broad category of these idiomatic expressions, and to put it simply – you can’t come up with these sort of sayings just by sticking the words together; you have to learn the EXACT phrase or word combination to be able to use it :!: There are also typical full English idioms among them, but I have to admit I have some reservations towards learning certain idioms like “It’s raining cats and dogs” or “pot calling the kettle black.” They are typical English idioms that you’ll find on any decent English idiom list online, yet they’re rarely heard in real life, if at all. My take on the whole English idiom thing (like it’s on spoken English in general) is the following – you don’t need to hammer loads of English idioms in your brain that you’re not going to use. You’d much better off using your potential as a foreign English speaker by learning idiomatic expressions because there’s a much bigger chance you’re going to use them in real life! How about the following ones: “for the argument’s sake”, “to jump to a conclusion”, “fit for the purpose”? These are typical idiomatic expressions that have some characteristics of full idioms, but at the same time it would be possible to derive their meaning from the words alone. Also, they don’t even need to be long phrases to fall under the category of idiomatic expressions. “On target”, “straight away”, “I’m all ears”, “big time” and similar short expressions are the ones that can make a difference between you being perceived a so-so English speaker or quite an advanced one! Not that you should care what others think of you, but still it’s nice to be capable of communicating with native English speakers like an equal, isn’t it? ;-) So to help you with learning these idiomatic expressions, I’ve been highlighting them in my blog posts in red color so that you can immediately see which bits are useful to memorize! (more…)

How To Get Involved When Speaking English

In this blog post I’ll be looking at one of the most dreadful things foreign English speakers come across – making MISTAKES. You might know the feeling – you start talking to someone in English, and then all of a sudden you make the most stupid mistake! And despite being a decent English speaker, the mistakes you make may create an impression that you’re just an English learner. It’s really irritating. It’s frustrating. Making mistakes like saying “he” instead of “she” or mixing up tenses and saying “had” instead of “has” should be something that only beginners do, isn’t that right? Yet it’s something that can happen to any of us no matter how fluently we speak! I’ve discussed this phenomenon at length on my blog previously and given plenty of advice on how to deal with those moments when you feel that you just can’t speak normally. At times there’s nothing better than just jumping into an English conversation and ignoring the mistakes you’re making. If it’s bound to happen, accept it and let go of the very fear of making those mistakes! Strangely enough, on many occasions it works. Having spent a few minutes chatting and forcing yourself to draw away your focus from mistakes to the conversation itself, you alleviate the self-imposed stress and your English fluency returns to normal. If it doesn’t help, you have to resort to another powerful tactic I’ve suggested previously on a number of articles and videos – slowing your speech down. On many occasions foreign English speakers are trying to match the speed of native English speakers’ speech and it can have quite the opposite effect. You may start stumbling upon words and make terrible mistakes just because you’re rushing your speech, and slowing down and pausing to pick the best fitting word is definitely a good idea. And sometimes when you’re so overwhelmed by the inability to speak normally, the best thing you can do is just forget about English for a while! Immersion in other activities allows your mind to “restart” itself and you can return to a normal English speaking mode the next day. There is, however, one aspect of making mistakes when speaking English that I haven’t yet touched on my blog. It’s about GETTING INOLVED when speaking. (more…)

Customer Support & Service Industry English Phrases

Does Integration of Foreigners into English Speaking Society Work?

Have you ever heard a statement that people are inherently lazy? Personally I believe it to be true, more or less. I believe that humans will put the minimum amount of effort into achieving their desired goal in any aspect of life. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. By and large though, human beings will do everything to avoid engaging in activities that they don’t find entertaining or which don’t result in a direct, tangible benefit. Are you outraged by my claims? Don’t be! I meant no offence to anyone, I merely stated the obvious. They even argue that human laziness is the driving force behind the development of technology! We just got tired of walking and running around, so one day we thought – hold on, why not use some animals to carry us around? In no time we were riding horses, then driving cars – and all that because we’re too lazy to walk! All, right, but what has it got to do with integration of foreign English speakers? Well, if you consider that integration in local English speaking society goes hand in hand with good English communication skills; it’s got everything to do with it! To put it simply – if foreigners aren’t REQUIRED to learn and improve English for PRACTICAL reasons, they won’t do it :!: There you go. I said it! If you want to stone me, you’re free to do it in the comments below. If you’re prepared for an even bigger dose of truth spoken by a Latvian expat living in Ireland – keep reading! (more…)

It’s OK to Feel Like an Idiot – Sometimes Even Native English Speakers Get Tongue-tied!

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…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “The Big Picture…”

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! Hi guys, hi boys and girls and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! In today's video we're going to look at the following English idiom: The BIG Picture. Or alternatively, you can say: The Bigger Picture. It doesn't really matter which one you go for, whether you say "The big picture" or "The bigger picture", these two word combinations are pretty much interchangeable, they mean the same thing. Now. In reality when you'll be using the phrase "The big picture" you would be putting it in different contexts, such as: "When looking at the bigger picture" or "If you look at the big picture" or your ability to see the bigger picture, right? You'd be using it in different contexts but the very two-word combination "The big picture" always remains the same and it's very idiomatic by its nature and if you are curious as to what it means, when to use it, how to use it, place bear with me for a few more minutes and everything's gonna become crystal clear to you, I promise! (more…)

If Someone Keeps Asking “Do You Understand Me?” – You May Indeed Run Into Fluency Issues!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng3ebQ96lkE In today’s video I’m discussing a particular experience I had with my plumber recently. So, here’s the setup. I’m a foreign English speaker having some issues with my heating system at home. I’m ringing the company who delivered my stove to come over and inspect the heating system. A native English speaking plumber arrives the next day and we’re having a conversation about the issues I’m having. As you know, I’m a fluent English speaker (no bragging – I’m merely stating a fact!), so you’d think there would be no problems with getting the message across and being understood by a native English speaker, right? Well, that’s right – everything I was saying, the plumber understood perfectly! The main problem of the communication, however, was him saying at the end of each sentence: DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? :mad: (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “It goes to show”

Car Video #3: Spontaneous Speech vs Slow Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUCvR754R7U Here’s another video broadcast from my car on the way to work, my friends! If some of you are wondering why I’m recording myself while driving to work, here are the main reasons: I practice spoken English with myself on a daily basis I practice what I preach – speaking in English ALL THE TIME :!: I know you love watching my videos – so why not use my free time and record them whenever I get a chance? ;-) This time I’m discussing merits of speaking spontaneously as opposed to speaking slowly. Yes, you’ll make more mistakes when speaking faster, but on the flip side it’s a great way of developing your gut feeling for correct English! Does it sound like a contradiction? I mean – making more mistakes to develop correct English? Well, my friends – here’s how it happens: (more…)

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 8- General Talk

Happy New Year 2017 From English Harmony!

Happy New Year 2017 my friends foreign English speakers and all my followers! I’m wishing you a very happy, prosperous and successful New Year! Personally for me this last year has been very challenging and full of surprises, but I can proudly say that I accomplished what I set out to do and I secured a job in the IT sector as a foreign English speaker. Have you got similar dreams and ambitions? Do you feel like you’re kind of stuck and you would really like to change things? Do you plan to move to an English speaking country to study? Do you finally want to find a better job where you can realize your full potential and also use the English language? Or maybe you want to start your own YouTube channel about a specific topic and publish videos as a foreign English speaker? Everything is possible. EVERYTHING! Just set your goal for the year 2017, come up with a simple action plan and follow through with it. It really is THAT simple my friends! Have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2017! Your English fluency coach, Robby ;-)

Must-Follow YouTube Channels by Foreign English Speakers!

I’ve been publishing videos on my English Harmony YouTube channel for a good few years now, and there was a time when I thought I was pretty much the only foreign English speaker publishing videos on YouTube. Sure enough, I’d seen some videos made by beginner and lower-intermediate English learners in a bid to exercise their spoken English skills, and it’s all nice and well, but what I’m talking about when saying I thought I was the only foreigner publishing videos is a well-established YouTube channel with massive following! Needless to say, I proved wrong. It turns out there are more non-native English speakers publishing on YouTube on a regular basis, and their videos are really interesting and engaging :!: Well, you see – probably the biggest obstacle in finding such YouTube channels was the fact that initially I was looking only in the English learning and teaching niche. And I’ve got to tell you that in this niche I’m indeed pretty much the only foreigner. Once I started looking beyond English learning and improving though, I started finding well-established YouTube channels where other foreign English speakers were sharing their thoughts and expertise on various other things. And it only goes to show that pretty much the only way to achieve complete English fluency is by enjoying life and things you LOVE instead of focusing on English learning related materials! So, without further ado, let me introduce you to these YouTube channels run by foreign English speakers, and I’m 100% sure you’ll find at least one of them extremely captivating and relevant to your own interests as well as providing an extra motivation to keep improving your spoken English to a level where you could possibly start recording similar videos and who knows… maybe you’ll even start a YouTube channel of your own one day! (more…)