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!

You Can Say Nearly Everything Using the Word “THING”!

We foreign English speakers often speak too complicated. Why go the extra mile every time you want to say something and explain the whole situation in the very detail? Compare the two sentences “So what do you think about our management trying to recoup some of the lost profits by cutting our wages?” and “So what do you think about the whole wage cuts thing?” The first sentence details the topic you’re discussing; the second one gets straight to the matter without wasting much time on explaining what’s already known to both people involved in the conversation. Also, it sounds more friendly and casual, and you can definitely ease any tension that’s present between you and the person you’re taking to :!: Say for instance, you find yourself sharing a launch break with someone you haven’t spoken a lot with, so you’re a bit uncomfortable with that person. Then he or she makes a casual comment about something going on in the company, it’s just small talk really. Now, if you respond with “Yes, the whole thing looks pretty bad all right!” it’s going to sound much better than “Yes, I agree, there’s not enough resources available to our management to complete the new building”. The first phrase is a very common way of confirming the other person’s opinion and sounds friendly enough. You really don’t need to repeat what the other person said to you, so a short phrase “The whole thing about…” is totally OK as a reply. Of course, if you’re having a formal conversation you wouldn’t risk being taken for a person with bad manners, so you would probably explain everything in more detail. If you’re chatting with a friend of yours, on the other hand, why beat around the bush? It’s so much more convenient to use the amazing English word “THING” to describe nearly everything you want! (more…)

What To Do If You Can’t Speak With Natives in an English Speaking Country

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psjNdaQ6q6k

How To Speak English Like A Native – Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT-bpRbz9ks Today I’m going to continue with the last episode’s topic about how to manage situations when you’re kind of stuck when asked something in English. Now I’ll recap the last episode in a couple of words so that you can refresh your memory! ;-) So the first step on your way to gaining a total confidence in your English is awareness of the fact that you actually can talk about any topic in English as if it were your native tongue. Once you’ve convinced yourself that you CAN – and bear it in mind – it’s very important :!: – you’ve broken down the mental barrier that’s been preventing you from successful English communication. Then you can start actually thinking over the question the very same way you’d consider a question asked in your native language. Instead of frantically thinking what you can tell about the topic or question you just take one thing at a time, give the person a couple of counter-questions to get the conversation going, and of course don’t hesitate to use idioms like as a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, to the best of my knowledge and similar, to fill in the pauses in your conversation and take time. As you may have noticed, any conversation in any language is filled with such filler phrases. Although some may argue that they serve no purpose at all and only litter our language, I don’t fully agree. If we take out everything we can from a conversation or a story leaving only dry facts, it suddenly becomes very boring... :-( OK, but now as promised – two powerful tips of the speech issue management and at the end of the episode – about managing casual conversations! (more…)

English Harmony System Update: de Luxe Edition!

Respect Your Native Language in order to… Speak Fluent English?

I've been constantly consumed by improving my spoken English so quite naturally I’ve been thinking in English, speaking English, reading English and also writing in English for the biggest part of my daily routines. As for my native language – Latvian – well, not much to say! I use it as means of communication with my family and other Latvians in the area, and I never paid too much attention how I spoke. After all, we all speak our native languages perfectly because that’s what native speakers do, right? I was actually quite surprised to discover that’s not really the case! And what’s more surprising – I also realized that one has to speak correctly in his own language to be good at spoken English :!: Are you confused? Are you thinking – “What on Earth has my native language got to do with my English? They’re too different languages and I already know my mother tongue as good as any other native speaker!” You’re right. Your language and English are different subjects. Languages don’t only differ in terms of phonetics, vocabulary, and grammar – they also reflect particular nationality’s and society’s lifestyle, customs and even different thinking patterns. However, there is one aspect that your language and English have in common. Clarity of thought! (more…)

Don’t Try to Figure Out What Something Means in English Grammar Terms – It Serves NO Purpose!

English Collocation: “Well Thought Through”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv9SXgH1d8w In this blog post I’m going to focus on the following English collocation: “well thought through”. It’s just another way of saying “well planned”, and it’s how native English speakers – or fluent foreign English speakers! – would speak in circumstances when they have to describe a very well planned activity, arrangement, or even a physical object or structure. Anything can be well thought through. A well thought through business development plan. A very well thought through fire escape route which ensures the fastest evacuation of company’s employees in the case of fire. Furniture in your house can be arranged in a very well thought through fashion ensuring the optimal functionality and creating a nice impression. (more…)

33 Word Shortenings Any Foreign English Speaker Should Know!

VOCAB – this is a short version of ‘vocabulary’ and while it’s not something you’ll be using on a very regular basis, it’s always good to know that you can say things like: “I want to build my English vocab” or “I just added another useful English phrase to my vocab!” LIMO – short for ‘limousine’. Next time around when you see one, you can nudge your friend and tell him – “Hey man, look at that cool limo!” CELEB – I’m pretty sure you knew this one, but I had to put it on the list to make it complete! It’s obviously short for ‘celebrity’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if 20 years down the line people wouldn’t remember the original word at all! PIC – this is a very handy way of referring to a picture or a photograph. “Hold on a sec, I’ll take a pic and then we’re good to go!” SEC – this is how you can shorten the word ‘second’. As a matter of fact, I used this word in the sample sentence above, and here’s a couple more sample phrases: “Wait a sec!” or “Be back in a sec!” DECAF – this is a short version of ‘decaffeinated coffee’ and it will definitely come in handy when putting in an order in a coffee shop late in the evening – “I’d like a large decaf latte, please!” DETOX – this is a popular word in terms of dieting, and it refers to detoxification whereby you get your body rid of all sorts of toxins. ‘A detox diet’, for example, is a diet consisting mostly of juices, fresh salads and veggies and helps you get much healthier within a matter of days! (more…)

Nonsense of Learning English by Listening to Fast English Spoken by Locals

Back in the day, when I’d just come to Ireland and was still struggling with my spoken English, I was working in a massive warehouse offloading trailers all day long while at the same time trying to understand what my Irish supervisors and managers wanted from me. Why did I just say “TRYING” to understand? Well – guess what? – it’s not that easy to figure out what you’re told in English if the person in question speaks very fast AND with a distinct accent! Needless to say, over the next few years I did learn to understand the local speech, and nowadays the Irish accent has become so familiar that I’d pick it out in a crowd immediately. The heck, I can even imitate English spoken in Ireland a little bit myself now, so I have to admit that over time things have gotten much, much better in terms of understanding English spoken by people from all over the world. The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to conclude that you can just listen to fast English spoken by heavily accented local speakers and you’ll be just fine in a few years’ time down the line. It’s quite the opposite actually – not only it could very well be that you DON’T learn to fully understand the local slang (and please bear in mind it’s not just limited to English spoken locally; all these problems may occur when you’re listening to FAST English in general!), but also you could pick up quite a few psychological issues along the line! You may constantly strive to speak just as fast as natives and as a result you constantly stumble upon words and hesitate when speaking in English. You may develop a habit of comparing your English with theirs which has a detrimental effect on your fluency. And you may also find it very difficult to learn the English language to proficiency if you’re constantly forcing yourself to listen (or read) to something you only half-understand. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to persuade you that: Under no circumstances you should be exposed to English the way it’s spoken by natives in real life; You should only be exposed to English you understand 100%. If that were the case, you’d never learn anything because by the very definition LEARNING implies acquiring something NEW, something you don’t know yet. There’s a huge difference, however, between learning English by listening and repeating words, phrases and sentences that are EASY to understand AND listening to something you can only remotely recognize! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “You may want to…”

Funny English Phrases: Discussing Relationships

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G2ecxdObN4 Are you YearOfEnglish.com member? If not – you still have a chance to subscribe to that website HERE and receive various English fluency improvement related information tips in your e-mail till the end of this year! If yes – you’re welcome to watch the funny English phrase video above I’ve prepared for you! This time around I've stuffed the video full with phrases that might come in handy when you discuss your relationship with a friend of yours. Yes, I know it’s not good to talk about people behind their back – especially if the person in question is your partner, girlfriend or spouse. Still, it’s one of the things people do when they’ve had a bad day at home and they want to unwind – they meet up with their friends and share those experiences with them… After all – what are friends meant for?! :grin: (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Along the Lines of…”

Accelerated American Slang Learning: Watching all 7 Seasons of Desperate Housewives in Less than 3 Months

Can you improve your English JUST by watching TV programs? Yes, sure. You can learn a great deal of new English words and expressions thanks to visual associations created when you see a scene on the screen and hear a certain phrase or expression. Also, it’s much easier to understand meanings of new English words if you see all the action unfold before your eyes. Can you make a CONSIDERABLE difference in your English fluency by watching TV shows in English? Yes, but it will require some effort because by listening alone you’ll mostly develop your passive vocabulary. Your active vocabulary – the one you use when speaking – is developed when you USE those new English phrases and expressions in your own conversations. So, while I was watching the Desperate Housewives box-set I got my wife for Christmas, I did all the following: I shadowed the characters with the subtitles turned on; I took notes of new English phrases and American slang expressions; I purposefully used those new expressions in my English conversations at work and also when practicing spoken English with myself. It all started quite innocently. I didn’t mean to spend the whole month of January, February and a week in March glued to the screen watching a TV soap loved mostly by members of the opposite sex. I simply watched one episode of Desperate Housewives with my family during last Christmas Holidays – I guess, I just wanted to see what all the fuss is about! And that, my dear friends foreign English speakers, was it… I was literally sucked into it! I couldn’t have imagined that Desperate Housewives was so intriguing and interesting! Illicit affairs, murders, scheming and dark secrets – and it all wrapped up as a comedy. Awesome! So, what I learned while watching around 160 episodes of Desperate Housewives within a matter of 10 weeks? I learned loads of American slang expressions, new vocabulary, phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions – and that’s not all :!: I also tried to speak like an American while shadowing the actors and I realized that I’m not too bad at speaking with an American accent! Here’s just a few of the idiomatic expressions and American slang phrases I added on to my active English vocabulary: (more…)

Surround Yourself With English ALL the Time!

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, hello my dear fellow English speakers and welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! In today's video we are going to look at the following topic: full English immersion and its importance in your spoken English fluency development. And sometimes you may think “what's the big deal? Why would I have to necessarily surround myself with English 24/7? Surely, if I want to improve my English I can just do certain things and that will improve my spoken English, right?” Well, you're right to a certain degree. Yes, you will definitely improve it because doing something is better than doing nothing, right? But here's the deal: if you immerse yourself in English 24/7, it's going to provide even additional benefits for your overall spoken English fluency development. (more…)

Accept Your English Fluency Limitations!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbO98jB1iYo Read the following carefully – you have to be aware of your limitations in terms of English fluency yet you have to constantly improve your spoken English. Are we looking at an apparent contradiction here? Not at all! Let’s introduce some algebra to help us understand this concept. Look at this hyperbolic graph. It’s one of the best ways to help us grasp the concept of confined infinity. Essentially it’s the same way as saying that you can constantly keep improving your spoken English but at the same time you can expect there to be a cap, a limit to that growth. So what the graph above shows is the following. The hyperbolic graph keeps constantly approaching the axis but it never meets it. This line extends infinitely and in theory if you would be able to keep zooming in, you’d see that it never touches the x axis. But just think about this – the axis in itself is a limitation in space, so it marks a certain level. And it’s right here when we can draw parallels with constantly improving English fluency yet it’s limited by your personal circumstances. (more…)

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

Do Headphones Improve English Listening Experience? (How to Stop Using Subtitles!)

Hi guys, whenever it comes to English listening, the typical picture most likely displayed is the following: It’s the headphones I’m talking about! Well, quite obviously there are other ways you can draw people’s attention to the fact that it’s the listening aspect that you want to focus on: One way or another, but headphones are strongly associated with English listening practice and I don’t doubt for a second that you’ve used them at some stage in your English learning routine. But here’s the thing. (Did you know you can say nearly everything using the word THING?) When I had to sit my English exam in secondary school, nobody offered me to use the headphones. When my daughter is doing her German homework, she doesn’t’ use her earphones – she just listens to the German audio lesson on her loudspeakers. After all – when you listen to other English speakers speak in real life, there’s no headphones involved, and you have to be able to perceive the meaning of speech from a distance. I mean – nobody is going to talk right into your ear, right? As a matter of fact, they actually take it one step further during the listening part of exams, for example – they make it HARDER for you to distinguish the words and make out what the speaker is saying by adding some background noise the audio such as the sound of cars passing by… You think it’s a good thing? You think it’s going to improve your ability to understand? It’s total NON-SENSE! Your listening comprehension won’t improve just because you make it harder for yourself to understand! In reality, you’ll make huge improvements in your ability to understand if you make it EASIER for yourself to understand what’s being said. Using subtitles is one way of making it easier for yourself to understand when watching films, for example. But it’s not always an option, and furthermore - It’s a good idea to teach yourself to understand English just by listening instead of reading, and that’s exactly when the headphones step in! Before we move onto discussing the merits of using headphones though, let me just show you the difference between earphones, headphones and headsets – just in case you’re wondering whether they’re the same thing or not! So, this is a typical set of headphones: And here’s what earphones look like: As far as headsets are concerned - this is what people mean when they mention it: And no, it’s not me wearing the headset! :-) Here’s me: Anyhow, going back to using the words “headset”, “headphones” and “earphones” - in real life these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But now at least you have an idea of what exactly each of them represents! So, now it’s about time we looked into the subject a bit deeper… (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Over the years”

Power of Memorizing English Sentences, Paragraphs and even Poems!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71b8GJkxHKM The traditional English teaching methods mostly rely upon grammar studies whereby the student is required to learn grammar rules. Next step is to learn new English vocabulary and then construct sentences by a way of sticking words together and applying grammar rules at the same time. Here at English Harmony we all know by now that such methods are ineffective to say the least; most foreigners never learn to speak fluent English because they try and construct sentences in their head instead of simply MEMORIZING NATURAL ENGLISH SPEECH PATTERNS. Memorization is the most natural way of acquiring a language, and while some people may think it’s too robotic and you don’t really learn anything because of the lack of analysis – here’s the deal: Analysis actually hampers your progress! (more…)

How to Write Formal e-Mails in English

I’ve been working in a number of jobs where there’s constant e-mailing going on – not to mention the fact that I’ve been running this website and providing customer support via e-mail since 2007 :!: So, as you can imagine, I know a thing or two about writing e-mails and how to make your e-mails effective, concise and to-the-point. And considering that I’ve been receiving quite a few requests to provide a comprehensive guide on how to write e-mails in English, I decided to publish this article where I’ve compiled the most popular means of expression used in formal e-mails. Now, traditionally people would divide e-mails into two types: Formal e-mails which is official communication at work, with various institutions and people you don’t know. Informal e-mails which is when you e-mail your friends, family and people you know very well. In reality though, it’s sometimes quite hard to draw a distinct line between the two for the simple reason that you can have a situation, for example, when you’re very familiar with your superiors at work. In theory, it would be considered formal communication. In reality, there’s nothing wrong with you using less formal means of expression in that communication – and believe me, it’s common practice in companies and organizations all over the world! Anyway, for the sake of simplicity, we will look at formal and informal e-mail writing separately, so in today’s article let’s see what English phraseology and expressions is used when writing formal e-mails. (more…)

3 Killer Tips on How to Write in English Like a Native Speaker!

This blog’s main focus is the spoken English improvement, yet in reality I spend a lot of time creating written content for my blog visitors to enjoy. Here are a few facts about me and writing in English: I’ve been regularly creating written content in English for the last 6 years – I’ve worked in IT customer support (constant e-mailing), I’ve been involved in a few online projects (content creation – articles, video scripts) and I’ve been regularly writing articles for this blog. If I really set my mind to it, I can write a 1000 word article in about an hour. Of course, speed isn’t an indication of one’s ability to write fluently and in a native-like fashion; however, the point is – I write as if I were speaking, and that’s part of the success formula to become a good writer. A few years ago I was involved in an Internet-based project catering for a native English speaking audience and over the course of a couple of years NO-ONE EVER hinted that the content creator might be a foreigner – even though my English wasn’t as developed as it is now. So, the point I’m trying to make here is that writing like a native English speaker is easier than you may think! ;-) (more…)

Simple Action Plan To Boost Your English Fluency

80/20 Rule – You Have To Be Selective About What You Learn!

Back in College: English Fluency Hitting an All-Time High!

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 16- Go Dutch

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")); Hellllooo everyone out there, How is it going with you all? Did you spend more time than you wanted to when you went on an excursion with your friends? Well, I almost had my pockets empty yesterday when I had to treat my group of friends at a five-star restaurant. It would not have been the case, had we gone dutch. (more…)

Past Events in English: “There Was This Time When… Next Thing I Know…”

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, hello boys and girls and hello my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It's me, Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! Now, in today's video I'm going to give you two new English idiomatic expressions which is somewhat unusual because normally I'd be giving just one. The reason being, if you learn a number of expressions all at once, especially if they describe a very similar concept, oftentimes you would get confused when we learn them all at once and then we try to speak all those expressions would mix together kind of. So that's why I normally suggest only focusing on one particular expression at a given time. But in this particular case the topic that I want to touch upon today is discussing past events, all right? The reason being, a lot of my blog visitors have contacted me in the past asking me “Robby, can you tell me ways of simplifying my speech when I talk about past events because I oftentimes get confused about using the different tenses or whatever?” And on top of that, a lot of my Fluency Star coaching clients have also expressed the same wish that we incorporate some storytelling basically into our programs. And by saying storytelling don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about some old style storytelling whereby the storyteller gets in front of the crowd and entertains everyone by telling entertaining stories. It's not about that. It's just about talk about past events, right? So basically provided all this I have a pretty clear picture basically. A lot of you guys are struggling with talking about past events and that's exactly the reason why I'm going to be touching upon that subject today. And the two phrases will come in very handy because the first one “there was this time when…” is a great way of initiating the story, right? And then the phrase “next thing I know...” is a very handy way of making the transition from the past tenses into the simple present. The reason being, you can use simple present when talking about past events. Surprise, surprise, a lot of you guys probably didn't know that, right? And chances are that you didn't because nobody really tells you that. You wouldn't find that information in an English grammar book. Nobody would write in it that simple present can be used to talk about past events, right? But in reality it happens a lot. Native English speakers use this strategy a lot but nobody – I suppose nobody really thinks a great deal of it. You know what I mean, people just speak that way, okay? But if you want to learn exactly how to use these two phrases “there was this time when…” and “next thing I know...” and how to make the transition from past tenses back to simple present to simplify your speech and get your story going, please bear with me and you'll find it all out, my friends in a couple of moments! (more…)