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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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…)

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…)

Lost in Translation OR Why I Couldn’t Translate Gulliver’s Travels

I was watching TV the other day with my wife, kids and my sister-in-law. It was Gulliver’s Travels – a very nice family comedy, and as we settled down in the front of TV I was ready to translate it for my sister-in-law because her English isn’t as advanced as to understand every subtlety of English language. You’d think I was very comfortable with the task, right? So would I – until I realized it’s not easy at all given the fact I haven’t built my English vocabulary as direct translation from my native language. I’ve acquired the bulk of English that I use and understand by learning from context, mimicking native speakers and reading loads of English fiction. If you’re still wandering what it’s got to do with my inability to translate Gulliver’s Travels into Latvian for my sister-in-law, here’s a very detailed explanation. (more…)

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

You Don’t Have to Know a SINGLE Grammar Rule to Speak Fluent English!

In this article, you’re going to find out: Why English grammar ISN’T necessary to speak fluent English; Why the most complicated grammar constructs are actually quite SIMPLE; How to use your brain’s natural ability to absorb grammatically correct speech patterns without analyzing them; How to use all the above to improve your spoken English! I know for a fact that many of you, my non-native English speaking friends, are struggling with English grammar. You’ve been studying grammar for YEARS only to discover that it doesn’t really help you speak fluently. YET you’re sticking with it. You’re hoping that there will be a point in time where you start speaking fluently once a significant amount of English grammar has been acquired. But guess what? Such a time will never come :!: Read about my 5 year long journey to English fluency HERE to see that the moment I STOPPED caring about grammar was the moment I started speaking fluent English. And keep reading this article to see WHY you don’t have to know formal English grammar rules in order to speak fluently ;-) (more…)

Watch Breaking Bad If You Want to Improve Your American English!

Just a Handful of English Phrases Will Enable You to Speak so Much More Fluently!

This short article is a hard proof that English phrases really help structuring our speech! Here’s the thing guys – when it comes to your ability to speak fluently, you may want to focus on building your phraseology (phrases) instead of vocabulary (individual words)! Don’t get me wrong - it’s not that I’m having something against vocabulary as such, it’s just that phraseology acquisition is way more effective! It mightn’t have crossed your mind before, but at the end of the day we all use pretty much the same English expressions and phrases all the time! It’s only when you analyze English around you that you realize that such and similar phrases make up a large part of people’s daily conversations. Having said this, I don’t deny the importance of specific vocabulary – nothing could be further from the truth! If you don’t know how this or that particular thing or abstract concept is called, it’s kind of hard to get your message across to your chat partner because you simply wouldn’t be able to describe simple concepts in the first place. Sometimes you would even run the risk of sending the wrong message to the other person, and that’s when successful communication gets slightly problematic, to say the least. When your basic vocabulary is decent, however, you can drastically improve your English fluency within a matter of weeks by learning common English phrases in order to get your speech going, you know what I mean? Even if you only learn phrases from this short article by clicking on the links, watching the respective videos, and then doing some self-practice, your spoken English will be much better down the line, there’s no doubt about that! Chat soon, Robby ;-)

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…)

Antonio Banderas’s Spanish Accent – So, Is His English NOT Fluent?

Are you one of those folks who thinks that in order to speak English fluently one needs to develop a near-native English pronunciation? Then watch this interview with Antonio Banderas – even a small piece will do - and think about the initial question once more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LgTKmRkLuM So, what do you think? Would you describe his English as not being fluent? Has his distinct Spanish accent prevented him from becoming one of the most successful Hollywood actors? Obviously not :!: So, why is ACCENT such a bid deal for so many people? Why so many other foreigners and native English speakers alike still hold the view that foreigners definitely need to reduce their accent if they want to come across as fluent English speakers? Well… The answer lies within a stereotype of a struggling foreign English speaker who speaks in broken English AND has a distinct accent. The reverse statement – anyone who has a distinct accent speaks broken English – isn’t always true, but it doesn’t prevent people from believing it. Why, we human beings are notorious to holding to wrong beliefs, and this is definitely not the only one out there! How about the following: Antonio Banderas gets away with his accent because of his good looks; Spanish accent is cool and that’s why it’s OK for him to speak with thick Spanish pronunciation but NOT OK for you or me… While there might be some truth in the above statements, it doesn’t explain HOW Antonio Banderas manages to be fluent YET retain his Spanish accent if fluency is always accompanied by perfect pronunciation... Surely if at some stage an English learner inevitably starts to develop a more native-like (in this case it should be American) pronunciation, then how come that Antonio has never fully mastered it yet he’s totally fluent? (more…)

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

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…)

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

82 Industry-Specific English Expressions & Phrases for Non-native English Speakers

If you’re a non-native English speaking professional employed in a specific industry such as medical and pharmacy, military, education, accountancy, human resources or legal industry, your daily duties involve using a lot of specific terminology and phraseology. Sure enough, you got your job by virtue of very decent English skills paired with relevant qualification and educational background, so it kind of goes without saying that your English is quite good and you’re not looking for basic English improving related information aimed mainly at beginner English learners. Having said this, we have to admit that English learning and improvement is a lifetime long process and you just have to keep on top of your specific industry-related language in order to remain a top-notch specialist, stay competitive in the jobs market, and also retain that edge that identifies you as a savvy industry specialist embracing change and always ready to adopt! So, here I’ve compiled 82 various technical English idiomatic expressions and phraseology that will definitely come in handy for you in your day-to-day job as well as recruitment process if you’re currently seeking for a new job or aiming to get a promotion in your current organization. Just scroll down to read the entire list of phrases or click on one of the links below to go to a specific phrase category: (more…)

Popular Misconceptions About Foreign English Speakers

Whether it’s portraying Russians in Hollywood blockbusters or judging foreigners by one short conversation and assuming that their overall English fluency must be flawed because they’ve made a couple of awkward mistakes – there are a lot of misconceptions out there about us, foreign English speakers :!: In this article I’m going to look at the most popular ones and while I’m fully aware of the fact that I won’t be able to dispel those stereotypes, it doesn’t mean I can’t talk about them, does it? Foreigners portrayed in films speak like native English speakers except for their accent I’ve met thousands of foreign English speakers throughout my life, and I can tell you this much – a foreign English speaker who gets English grammar 100% correct while speaking is a rare creature to find! And I’m not speaking of a person with foreign origin who’s moved to an English speaking country during childhood or teenage years and has achieved a native-like fluency by the time he’s an adult. I’m speaking about typical foreigners who speak English with a smaller or a bigger foreign accent just like the ones typically portrayed in films and TV shows. As you can imagine, the reason behind it is because on 99% of occasions actors portraying foreigners in movies are native English speaking actors with accent talents :!: (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Come in Handy”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoOdmAEccVQ Hello everybody! This is the first blog post in this blog called EasyIdioms.com, and it’s going to be run by me - Robby Kukurs from EnglishHarmony.com! :grin: I made the decision to start a new blog dedicated to the English Idiomatic Expressions exclusively since my English Harmony blog started getting a bit cluttered up with all sorts of blog posts and videos. I had to choose between ditching the idiomatic expression videos altogether or finding a new platform to feature them, and it goes without saying I went for the latter. After all, judging by my visitors’ comments, all these videos come in handy for those foreign English speakers out there who are working on their fluency, and I also have to admit that I’m kind of used to creating these videos on a regular basis. (more…)

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

The More English You Know, The… Less You Know?!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7qdHloilI0 VIDEO SCRIPT BELOW: Hello boys and girls and welcome back to my video blog! I'm Robby from EnglishHarmony.com and I'm your fluency mentor, and today's video is going to be dedicated to the following subject: Sometimes as you go about your English learning and improvement routine you will kind of realize that THE MORE YOU KNOW, the less fluent you become! If you reminisce about days gone by, a couple years ago probably - when you just started learning the English language, when you knew not so much - basically when your knowledge was quite limited - you could actually say a whole lot more than now, when your knowledge is quite thorough and profound and you know a lot of synonyms describing the same abstract concepts and things and so on and so forth, you sometimes find that you actually struggle to say anything at all! But in the very early stages of your English fluency improvement and learning attempts you could say a whole lot more, or at least so it seems, right? So why this funny thing is happening? There's a very easy explanation for that, my friends: it's SYNONYMS, English vocabulary in general and how you've learned it - that's what it all boils down to :!: (more…)

FGC Goal #1: Using American Phrases 1 – 12 in a Self-Practice Session

Planning Your Answer Goes a Long Way: How to Answer Unexpected Questions

Here’s one of the biggest problems I’ve been facing myself over the years when dealing with other English speakers: Sometimes they ask you a question you don’t really expect or you don’t have an opinion on, and as a result you struggle to deliver an immediate response! What’s even worse – more often than not your inability to deliver an immediate answer to that question will be mistaken for inability to find the right words to say (basically they’ll assume your English vocabulary isn’t sufficient), but it’s obviously not the case if you simply haven’t thought about that subject before! Let’s assume for argument’s sake you’re walking down the street and you’re suddenly approached by some charity worker trying to talk people into signing up for a monthly direct debit in aid for a particular charity organization – it has happened to me on numerous occasions and I’m sure you’ve fallen victim to those agents as well! Well, not that I have something against charity as such, it’s just that I don’t like the idea of signing up for yet another monthly payment from my bank account! I always tell those people I wouldn’t mind donating a fiver for a good cause, but the answer is always the same – “We can’t accept any cash, it’s not how our organization works and so on.” Anyhow, let’s say you’re suddenly stopped by one of those fellas or girls and you’re being bombarded by a substantial amount of information at once: “Hello mister, do you have a few moments to listen me out? I’m representing organization X – have you ever heard of us? - and we’re helping Y – I’m sure you’ve heard about problems surrounding Y lately - and we depend on people just like you to keep providing these essential services, and…” At this moment in time there’s a number of different lines of thoughts starting in your mind: “Do I have time to talk to this person or I don’t? Do I actually feel comfortable speaking with him?” “Organization X? Yeah, I kind of recognize the name, but I’m not sure…” “Helping Y? That’s a really good cause, but should I ask him if all my money would go towards Y or organization X are keeping some of it for themselves?” … and so on and so forth. All these thoughts happening at once might make your response almost impossible, let alone allowing you to deliver a well thought-through answer! You might start saying something nonsensical, you might make some really stupid mistakes and the agent might think that your English is so bad that you can’t come up with anything reasonable to say! Well, not that you should care too much about others’ opinion anyway, it’s just that I guess you’d wish you could manage such situations better and form logical answers, wouldn’t you? Then read the rest of this article and you’ll find out how EXACTLY you have to PLAN your answers on occasions when you’re bombarded with all different types of questions or you’re asked something unexpected very suddenly! (more…)

Boring English Grammar or Cool Fiction – Make Up Your Mind!

All foreign English learners, improvers, grammar enthusiasts and bookworms – this blog post is for you :!: But first – a couple of words about me and my relationship with reading. I love reading! No – seriously, even though some of my blog posts might seem to be promoting spoken English exclusively, I do it for the sole purpose of encouraging foreign English speakers to speak. After all, this blog is dedicated to those who struggle with English SPEAKING and I’ll never tell you to read plenty of English literature and print media in order to improve your SPOKEN English because… it’s lies :shock: It’s big, fat lies told to you by traditional English learning proponents simply because they don’t know any better and also because they studied English at school following the very same methods. They still believe you can soak in all the English material you’re reading like a giant sponge and then start speaking and use all you’ve learnt and read. Folks, it just doesn’t happen that way, in order to speak you need to speak! However, it’s worth noting that I haven’t said a single word about English reading being bad as such. And I never will, because I’ve always been reading a lot throughout my life. Since I reached complete English reading fluency, I’ve been reading mostly historical fiction and fantasy in English, and I must tell you – I’m loving it! ;-) OK, I’ll get back to today’s story, so let’s cut the rant and get down to what I wanted to tell you! (more…)

Why Can’t I Speak With My Fellow Native Speakers in English Fluently?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znhskFOnONw Have you ever found that you can’t speak normal, fluent English with people who speak your own language? It may sound weird at first, but it happens more often than you may think :!: The reason why I’m touching upon this phenomenon is the following comments I received on YouTube recently: Well, I have written about the inability to speak with certain people in English. I’ve also looked at various reasons as to why it might be easier to speak in English with native English speakers and why sometimes you’ll actually find that other foreigners provide better conversation partners than native English speakers. (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Such and similar”

FGC Goal #1: American Phrase #19: TELLTALE SIGN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spJ-dEwMMHM Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Hi guys! This morning I’m bringing you a new American English phrase – TELLTALE SIGN. Have you not heard this one before? Well, I hadn’t come across it either until one fine day I encountered it while reading one of the GONE series books and decided to add it onto the fifty American phrases I’m learning as part of this Fluency Gym Coach Program goal! So, what is a TELLTALE SIGN? Well, this time around I’m not going to reveal a single bit of information to you in writing; you’ll have to watch the video above to find out what a TELLTALE SIGN is! Am I being mean? :-( Well, maybe, but then again, why couldn’t this blog post be different in that you simply HAVE to watch the video to find out the meaning of the phrase? Robby :grin:

Defining Your English Comfort Zone

7 Reasons Why Having Been Born a Foreigner Is One of the Best Things That Ever Happened to You!

I have a friend who’s made incredible achievements in terms of his professional life and he’s also very comfortable when it comes to his finances, but quite often he would tell me how much more he would have achieved if he’d been born in an English speaking country. While I can’t deny that there’s a lot of truth to what he’s saying, I can also tell you that being a foreigner isn’t always a handicap – especially if you know what you want to achieve in life! Here I came up with a list of things that should open your eyes and make you realize how lucky you actually are having been born a foreigner! (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…)