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!

Idiomatic Expressions are your Proteins; Spoken English Practice – your Workout Routine!

My fellow foreign English speakers! Would you go to a gym only to sit back, watch other people work out, and expect to put on muscle, increase your fitness levels and become a better athlete? Of course not! It would be nonsensical to abstain from a physical activity while it’s obvious to anyone that it’s THAT ACTIVITY that will insure your goals and targets in that specific discipline. Now, can anyone tell me then why spoken English performance would be any different? Is it not OBVIOUS that in order to become better speakers, we need to SPEAK (work out)? Well, the traditional English teaching industry doesn’t make it an easy task, that’s for sure! After all those years of being brainwashed we sometimes might struggle to see the obvious. (more…)

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…)

You Won’t Fool a Native English Speaker During a Job Interview So Better Stop Trying!

On certain occasions when you think native English speakers will spot every single one of your mistakes, it’s not really the case for the simple reason that people don’t always pay the utmost amount of attention to what you’re saying. Yes, you may be having a conversation with a native English speaker so you think they’re listening to every single word you’re saying while in reality they may be dwelling upon their own problems and they’re not 100% focused on what you’re saying. If that’s the case, there’s simply no reason for you to be too worked up about your mistakes and other English speech imperfections and you may as well just allow yourself to experiment and improvise during a live speech because there’s nothing really at stake. When you have a very important conversation with a native English speaker, on the other hand, there’s also no point in trying to outperform yourself and sound a whole lot more fluent than you are. When a native English speaker is 100% focused on what you’re saying which would be the case during a job interview, for example, you won’t fool them into believing your English is much, much better just because you’re trying really hard to sound as if you’re speaking just like a native English speaker. Yes, there are certain techniques and methods you can employ in order to sound better during a very stressful conversation such as: Speak in short sentences Focus on what you can say instead of what you can’t Plan your answer instead of jumping right into answering the question The point I’ll be making during this article, however, is the following: As hard as you may try, you won’t fool a native English speaking job interviewer into believing you’re a native English speaker! You’re much better off FOCUSING on talking about your professional background and previous job experience! (more…)

“Beat – Beat – Beaten”: Learn Irregular English Verbs Through Expressions!

FREE eBook – Practical English Grammar!

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I hate spam as much as you do and I'll contact you only to send news about improving English fluency! Right after the request you’ll receive an e-mail with a confirmation link which will bring you straight to the download page. And here’s the good news – you can read this eBook on your computer or laptop as a PDF file, you'll get a MOBI version of it in case you have a Kindle eBook reader, but if you have an iPad - you can make use of the EPUB file! Bear in mind, my fellow foreigners, that this isn’t your traditional English grammar reference book or textbook :!: This “Practical English Grammar” eBook contains my own observations, analysis and interpretation of how English grammar is sometimes much different in real life than we expect it to be, and instead of having this “why would I speak like that, it’s not what my English teacher taught me!” attitude, I’m suggesting you to make it easier for yourself to speak English by speaking exactly like native English speakers speak! There are twelve chapters in the eBook covering aspects of English Grammar that you wouldn’t have probably even heard of – such as how to substitute Present Simple Tense for Present Continuous Tense in order to sound more natural and friendly - yet they’re very relevant for us, foreigners! And don’t worry, I’m not being very technical in the eBook and I’m not using very specific English Grammar related terms. All you need to know is what the Past Perfect Tense is and what GOING TO + Infinitive Future form is and you’ll understand everything I’m writing in the “Practical English Grammar” eBook! ;-) Wishing your Happy Reading, Robby

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

Shame Is The Enemy #1 Of All Foreign English Speakers!

Here’s how to improve your spoken English when reading this article: read it out loud, then read out loud the collocations highlighted in red 10 times each to memorize them, then look away from the monitor and try and say 3 sample sentences for each of those collocations! For best results record your speech so that you can go back, spot any mistakes you might have made, and then do some more spoken English practice by correcting yourself! How many times you HAVEN’T SAID something in English because you’ve been ashamed? I bet it’s too many to count, my friend foreign English speaker, and that’s the prime reason why your fluency isn’t at the level you’d like it to be. Well, of course, it could be the case that you’re quite happy with your level of English fluency, but the chances are – if that were the case, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, am I not right? Anyway, let’s not get side-tracked from the main subject which is all about being ashamed of your level of English and NOT speaking enough. Imagine the following scenario. Two foreign English speakers move to an English speaking country, take up jobs and settle down to live in that country for a good few years. The first foreigner takes every opportunity to open his mouth and say something in English. Every time his boss, co-workers or customers ask him something, he always tries to say something extra, something to keep the conversation going. And he also doesn’t miss a chance to start a chat with others. Now, the second foreigner is also doing alright, however, unlike the first one, he will only say the bare minimum that people ask him. He will never start a conversation, will never say anything extra, and it’s all because he’s ashamed of making mistakes and sounding stupid. You think the first foreigner isn’t making any mistakes? Oh boy, of course he is! We all do, it’s an integral part of being a foreign English speaker – you are bound to make lots of mistakes before achieving a decent level of fluency. Yet, the first guy just DOESN’T CARE. (more…)

Tip for YearOfEnglish.com Subscribers: Learn English Song Lyrics!

Let’s face it my friends: Songs performed in English are topping the charts all over the globe, and even if you’re a fan of music performed in your native language, you surely listen to popular songs or some classic hits every now and then, don’t you? If you’re anything like the average foreigner out there, I guess I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that you normally don’t pay attention to English song lyrics; you just allow the music wash over your ears and touch you emotionally rather than with the actual meaning of words. To tell you the truth, my friends, I don’t even pay conscious attention to words when I listen to songs performed by my fellow country-men (or women for that matter!), and sometimes it’s next to impossible to decipher those lyrics regardless of the language! :grin: If you do learn lyrics of your most beloved English songs, however, you will most definitely avail of all the following: (more…)

Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced English Grammar? Nonsense!

Much of that stress you experience when learning and improving your English could be alleviated if there were no different English grammar complexity levels, isn’t that right? Just think about it. The moment a foreigner decides to learn or improve English, his success hugely depends on his attitude towards the process. Depending on the perceived difficulty he can either achieve that long-desired English fluency or become completely unmotivated to improve if the end goal of being a fluent English speaker seems like an epic task. I believe that ANY process – be it English learning, or learning high level chemistry isn’t difficult as far as you fully understand what’s being discussed in the particular lesson or book’s chapter OR you can replicate the results without focusing too much on the details :!: Even rocket science is easy once you know what you’re doing! ;-) I believe the same goes with English grammar. Well, first of all, I don’t think English students should focus on grammar as much as the industry requires them to do in the first place. Grammar is nothing more than bunch or rules determining how words are arranged in a sentence and you can learn it all just by speaking mimicking native English speakers because spoken English already has all NATURAL grammar in it! But if you do incorporate certain amount of English grammar studies in your English improving routine, you may become overwhelmed by its complexity. All the grammar terms ranging from very easy ones such as a verb and a noun and ending with advanced high-end grammar stuff like conditional sentences and compound sentences will make you feel that there’s so much to acquire and that you need to spend long, long years learning all that stuff. And you’re right. If you want to become an English teacher and know all ABOUT English grammar, it will be a lengthy task indeed. If, on the other hand, you want to become a fluent English speaker, your perception suddenly changes. You don’t need to divide English grammar into beginners, intermediate and advanced because it will only inhibit your progress. Do you want to see a proof that there’s no easy and difficult English grammar? All right, no problems! (more…)

What You Think is Your WORST English Performance May Just Turn Out to Be Your BEST One Ever!

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

Have you ever heard a native English speaker make a comment about some foreigner which clearly shows their irritation with the fact that the said foreigner doesn’t speak in English fluently enough or can’t understand what the native English speaker is saying? I’ve been the target of such judgmental, opinionated thinking myself as well as witnessed other foreigners becoming targets of unfair treatment just because they didn’t understand what they were told or weren’t able to say something in English, and here’s a typical scenario of how such treatment manifests itself: A native English speaker says something to a foreigner very fast, or even worse – with a strong local accent. The foreigner has NO IDEA what he was just told, and oftentimes he’s too embarrassed to say anything in response – he’s just smiling or nodding his head in agreement just so that the native English speaker would go away and leave him alone. The native English speaker then makes a comment about the whole situation by saying something along the lines of: “It’s about time they started learning some English…” or “He’s been working here for so long and still he has no English at all!” All I can say about that is the following – those native English speakers have NO IDEA of how difficult it actually is to learn a language :!: They have no idea that it’s impossible for foreigners to learn English by listening to very fast speech spoken by locals so they don’t even bother slowing their speech down thus making it impossible for the non-native speaker to understand them. They think that English is somehow “picked up” by foreigners simply being around English speakers, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. One has to make a lot of CONSCIOUS effort in order to learn English and be able to understand others as well as speak the language, and it requires many hours of spoken English practice to get to a level where the foreign English speaker can finally start speaking with other people in English comfortably. Some native English speakers may have been lead to believe that picking up English is fairly simple by the analogy of small foreign children of pre-school age – they start speaking in English pretty fast once they start going to a kindergarten or school so surely adult foreigners should be capable of the same, right? Not really :!: You can’t really compare small children with adults because children have no fear of making mistakes and they can speak ALL THE TIME thus improving their English very fast whereas for many adult foreigners at work opportunities to speak are quite limited – not to mention the embarrassment and judgmental treatment which are LIMITING their potential. All in all, learning English is quite a tricky process for the average foreigner, so let’s look at the various aspects of it a little bit deeper. (more…)

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

Don’t Judge Foreign English Speakers by Their Mistakes!

I have to make a confession to you, my fellow foreigners… Despite having struggled with English fluency myself, and despite making mistakes while speaking myself, I do sometimes make assumptions about other foreigners and their level of English … You see, the strange thing about it is that I’m fully aware of the fact that making mistakes and struggling for words is normal. I know only too well that there’s a multitude of different factors affecting one’s spoken English performance – starting with stress and anxiety and ending with such complicated English fluency issues as preparing speech in one’s head before speaking and a total information overload. After all, I have a first-hand experience of what it feels like when you know EXACTLY what you want to say, but your mouth suddenly disobeys you and says the wrong thing… So quite naturally I’d expect myself to be the last person to draw hasty conclusions about somebody’s level of English, yet it does occasionally happen! Of course, the moment I catch myself thinking something like – “All right, I have to choose slightly simpler words when talking to him because he just used a completely wrong English Grammar Tense, so most likely he won’t understand me if I speak the way I speak with native English speakers…” – I immediately say to myself: “Robby, common, don’t be such a meanie, are you always perfect yourself?!” Imagine, if it takes me so much effort to stop patronizing others, how must native English speakers feel when they hear me make some stupid mistake when speaking to them? Can I blame them for assuming that my English is poor just because I mispronounced a very simple word? I, for instance, stressed the wrong syllable in the word ‘monopoly’ the other day. I said [‘monopoli] instead of [mo’nopoli], and had my workmate Will not known me for years, he probably would have judged my English skills by that one stupid mistake! On another occasion, I made a mistake by misplacing a word in a phrase. I said “Fair done!” which is a mix of two phrases – “Well done” and “Fair play to you!” Once again, for someone who doesn’t know me this would be a reason good enough to extrapolate that mistake to everything I might say. It’s the so called reverse halo effect, and now let’s look at this phenomenon in depth! (more…)

Don’t Use Subtitles in Your Native Language!

- Video Transcript Below - Hi Guys! Hello boys and girls! Hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog or, alternatively, if you're not watching this as video, but if you're listening to his as an audio, welcome back to English Harmony podcast for those of you who can't access YouTube video content, right? To the best of my knowledge, China is pretty much the only country where people aren't allowed to access certain YouTube channels, or something like that, but there might be more countries on the list which I'm not really aware of because I've only received requests from Chinese people to start the English Harmony podcast version, which would be just audio instead of video content, right And that's the reason why I actually started recording the audio files. Well, not really recording - I simply convert all my videos into audios, right? That's how it happens. You can find them on top of every video blog post that I publish on my blog. Anyway, today's subject is should you - that's a question, right? Posed, actually, to me by one of blog readers, should - well, he didn't actually pose the question this exact way; he was actually asking me. If I'm not mistaken, that person was 'him', it was male, right? A man. And he was asking me a question about finding English videos, right? And he said that he's finding it hard to find videos with subtitles in his native language and then that question poses another counter-question: should you actually be looking for videos with subtitles in your native language? (more…)

What I’ve Realized Having Lived in an English Speaking Country for 14 Years

Here’s how to improve your spoken English when reading this article: read it out loud, then read out loud the collocations highlighted in red 10 times each to memorize them, then look away from the monitor and try and say 3 sample sentences for each of those collocations! For best results record your speech so that you can go back, spot any mistakes you might have made, and then do some more spoken English practice by correcting yourself! Related articles: Emigration to an English Speaking Country: My Honest Opinion Top 15 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Foreigners Settling Down in an English Speaking Country What To Do If You Can’t Speak With Natives in an English Speaking Country If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me talking about living in Ireland which, as you may already know, is an English speaking country. In hindsight, I can say that it’s been one hell of a transformation – I’ve gone from a foreigner who’s barely capable of speaking conversational English to an English fluency mentor who’s teaching other foreign English speakers. I’ve experienced all the ups and downs one can encounter while living in an English speaking country. I’ve been told I’m a useless English speaker. I’ve been in all sorts of embarrassing situations – starting from not being able to order a meal in McDonald’s and ending with screwing up job interviews because of my inability to provide a coherent answer. But the great thing is that now, with all that experience under my belt, I can tell my students with the utmost certainty what kind of an attitude they need to adopt in order to survive and thrive as English speakers living in an English speaking country. It feels so great being in a position to help out others, and frankly speaking, I don’t regret anything that’s happened to me while I was a struggling English speaker. I like to think that everything that happens, happens for a reason, and I just HAD to endure all the hardship and suffering to emerge a fluent English speaker equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to help others who find themselves in the same boat. But now, let me tell you what I’ve realized over the 14 year long stay in Ireland; as you can imagine, I know a thing or two about life in an English speaking country! (more…)

How To Speak About Past Events During English Conversations

Robby’s 5 Favorite Blog Posts of All Time on EnglishHarmony.com

Over the years I've published well over 200 articles on this blog, and there are a few that have become hugely popular with my blog readers. Articles like English Small Talk Phrases and How to Speak Fluent English with Limited Vocabulary are constantly topping the most viewed pages list, and I can see why they're getting such good publicity. A large number of my fellow foreigners are seeking information on the most commonly used English words and sentences, and those two articles are related to that subject hence their popularity! Some of my creations, however, have limited exposure, and the purpose of this article is to showcase some of my blog posts I’m very proud of YET they’re not getting a lot of views because they don’t rank well enough in Google. So, without further ado, allow me present you the top 5 blog posts I really, really like and I believe you’ll like them too because they touch upon subjects that are very relevant to us, foreign English speakers! (more…)

Why I Keep Talking About The Same Issues Over and Over Again

Phrasal Verbs – Great Way To Improve Spoken English!

Spoken English is stuffed with phrasal verbs and if you’re serious about improving your spoken English you definitely need to pay attention to them. What I find fascinating about the English language as such is that there are actually three types of English expressions – formal, colloquial and slang; these three are like separate dimensions of the same language. Colloquial English, which I also refer to as spoken English, is used in everyday situations and is stuffed with phrasal verbs which are also OK to use in more formal situations, and that’s the great thing about them :!: My native language – Latvian – has only two distinct vocabularies – formal and slang and there are no equivalents to phrasal verbs. But then modern English has been influenced by so many languages – Latin, French, Germanic languages and others – that it’s no surprise you can express nearly every action in so many different ways. Let’s have a look at the following example. You’re coming back from the local music store where you intended to buy concert tickets but unfortunately you didn’t get any. There’s a number of ways you can put the bad news to your friends. “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and all of them had been already purchased” is quite a formal way of communicating the message to your peers – note the Past Perfect Tense “had been” and the formal verb “purchased”. A more friendly way of saying the same thing would be “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and they were all snapped up” or “I didn’t buy the tickets, I was too late and they were all sold out”. Notice the phrasal verbs “to snap up” and “to sell out” – they’re typical to everyday English conversations and they’re not vulgar or rude in any way. As I said above - you can also use the same phrasal verbs in more formal situations with no problems! (more…)

Develop Your English Fluency by Helping Others!

Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve been working on my English. Truth be told, my English learning methods didn’t do much good to my fluency because I spent most of my time learning English grammar, reading and writing and as a result I developed something I like to call a “writing mode” of my mind (read more about it HERE). Nonetheless, I was constantly striving to improve my English and whenever one of my friends would ask me to help them to translate something from English or to make a phone call and talk to an English speaker on their behalf, I never said NO. Helping others became a whole lot more frequent when I moved to Ireland back in 2002 because there were a lot of things to be done in order to settle down in the foreign country – starting from opening a bank account and ending with renting a house – and plenty of my fellow Latvians asked for my assistance when dealing with native English speakers in various institutions or via the phone. During the Celtic Tiger boom years there was a never-ending stream of Latvian immigrants coming to Ireland many of which happened to be my friends or relations, so needless to say I had to help many of them to deal with local authorities, utility companies and the like. And guess what? As a result of all those countless hours of helping others to write correspondence in English, translate from English and also acting as an interpreter on quite a lot of occasions, I immensely improved my own English! Fair enough, I was constantly struggling with my spoken English because I still kept resorting to traditional English learning methods when studying the language at home, and it’s only 5 years after I arrived in Ireland that I finally realized what I had to do in order to speak fluently. Having said all this however, I have to admit that by helping others I was doing myself a really big favor because I was constantly exposing myself to real life English and it did contribute into my personal English fluency development big time. Was I annoyed a lot of times for being constantly asked for help? Hell yes! Do I regret it now? Hell no! :grin: Now I fully understand that by constantly being out there and helping my fellow Latvians deal with daily problems in an English speaking country I was improving my own English, and there’s no reason, by the way, why you couldn’t do the same thing. So here’s what I’ve been doing throughout the years for others in terms of helping them to deal with the English language related issues (and there’s no reason in the world why YOU couldn’t start doing the same thing!): (more…)

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…)

Prepare for Important English Conversations by Speaking With Yourself!

Spent Years Learning English Words from Newspapers… Then Burned It All to Ashes!

A while ago I published an article called Just Because You Have English Textbooks Doesn’t Mean You Possess That Knowledge!  and it was all about the widespread misconception of English textbooks and other printed materials making people “own” that knowledge. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth! For the most part, English learners would collect all sorts of English books to create an illusion for themselves that they’re doing something in order to learn the language. And so it happens that a couple of days ago Sachin, who is one of my long-term blog readers, posted the following comment on that blog post: Robby in my school/ college days I was hopeless in my language skills, my native language, 2nd language (Hindi) and English... all of them. I had flunk in last two languages 2-3 times and could barely manage to cross 40% in my native language (35% was passing). During that time I was told to read Editorial of English newspaper and mark difficult words from it, practice it and you will be fluent in English...:=O I did that religiously for a long period of time, hoping that at some point God will see may efforts and will have mercy on me and turn on the language button which was in off mode since birth. Honestly I was waiting for miracle to happen but nothing happened for long time...:'( I had a big file of those editorials and word power. I never heard those words in my daily life....and finally a few years ago I burned those files to ashes... :D (more…)

Customer Support & Service Industry English Phrases

My Plans for English Harmony in 2015

So much has happened during the last few months in my life… I changed my job a couple of months ago... I re-opened my English fluency coaching program Fluency Star... And then I quit my new job having worked there for just over two months :!: You see, I realized I can’t really cope with such a massive workload and the only logical solution was to quit my new job so that I can do both – teach my students via Skype and maintain this blog. If you’ve been following English Harmony for a while you’ll notice that I haven’t been posting a lot of blog posts lately. To be more specific - it’s been 2 weeks now without posting a single blog entry! To put it in perspective – there was a time when I was publishing 3 articles every week. If you visited my blog on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you would always find a new article or a video, but during the last few months it’s been fairly irregular. I’ve published something whenever I could find enough time for it, but if I put myself in your shoes, I can definitely see that it’s not good enough. I don’t have to be a genius to figure out that you’d rather come to my blog with the sure knowledge of finding new content every couple of days, so it’s the first thing I’ve planned for the English Harmony website this year: (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “When it comes to…”

When it comes to speaking fluent English, there’s no better way of getting your speech going that learning idiomatic expressions and using them in your real life conversations! Today is no exception, and what I want to draw your attention to is the very first sentence of this article. “When it comes to…” is a very handy English expression, and I decided to make a video about it to tell you guys how to use it best. This expression – “When it comes to…” – has many equivalent English phrases and expressions. “As for…” “In relation to…” “Speaking of…” … and many more phrases can be used the same way you’d use the one I’m looking at in today’s video. Still, I believe that “When it comes to…” is the most informal and friendliest of them all, and that’s why it’s my personal favorite. But what about you? Have you heard other English speakers use it a lot? Or maybe this is the first time you actually hear this particular expression? Let me know about it in the comments below! Talk to you soon, Robby ;-)