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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Builds your English confidence - no more situations when you stop and hesitate when speaking English!

English Collocation: “Sparked Heated Debates”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWdft2DTxXk When controversial issues of any nature are discussed in various public places such as: Work meetings; Parliaments; Classrooms; Websites; and many more, there’s always the chance that those debates are going to get quite emotional! Now, do you know how native English speakers refer to events when comments made by one of the people result in fierce arguments? The say that those comments SPARK HEATED DEBATES! This three-word combination is the so-called English collocation; it’s not a strong idiom (in an idiom, you can’t replace some words with others!) because it’s not very strict and you can say the same thing in a number of different ways: (more…)

Stop Preparing Speech In Your Head Beforehand!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqAgLOL0NYU Do you often catch yourself thinking of what exactly you’re going to say a few moments before you say the actual thing? Do you frequently make mistakes such as saying the wrong word or mixing up letters in words because you constantly think of a number of different ways to say the particular thing? If you recognize yourself from my description, don’t worry, you’re not unique. There are thousands of other foreign English speakers who speak following the same pattern – they prepare speech in their head beforehand and then try to say it out loud. As you already know, it creates all sorts of English fluency issues with the most noticeable being hesitation, stuttering and using wrong words or wrong grammar constructs. In other words, you sound very uncertain and your conversation partner may get the impression that you don’t really know what to say although in reality it’s quite the opposite… You know exactly what you want to say, and you know how to say it in five different ways, and all those sentences are right here, in your mind, it’s just that when you speak out loud you kind of want to say it all at once! :mad: I’ve been in the same boat, my friend. I know exactly how it feels and I also know what causes this problem. Would you like to understand the reasons behind this issue so that you can start dealing with it? Then stay with me for a few more minutes and I’ll explain everything to you! (more…)

12 Reasons Why Spoken English is Just Like Playing a Guitar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqWl-3dVCLY 1. You may be good at recognizing chords & songs, but you need to be able to play them yourself in order to… play them! If I told you that watching Keith Richards perform and deliver his best guitar pieces for three months straight will make you into a decent guitar player, would you believe me? I guess not! Then why would you ever listen to someone who wants you to buy into the learn-English-by-listening hype? Ability to use your mouth in order to speak in English AND using your guitar to play a song aren’t so dissimilar because it all boils down to your ability to DO something rather than just RECOGNIZE something. It’s all about PASSIVE vs ACTIVE English, music or whatever practical skill we’re looking at! When I picked up the guitar for the first time and tried my first chord, I sucked at it big time. And it’s no wonder I was so bad at it – I simply had never tried doing it before. I had been checking out some related information previously though, and I had a general idea of how certain chords would have to be placed. Doing it myself turned out to be a totally different story altogether, and the very same goes with using your mouth in order to speak in English. You may be able to understand other people fairly well, yet when you open your mouth it’s the same as trying your first chord on a guitar. Remember: spoken English – just like guitar play – is a very PRACTICAL SKILL! (more…)

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

Connecting Your Ideas in Written English

When you are writing in English, there are two main components that you must achieve in order to express yourself well: First, you must have strong, clear ideas. And second, you must present these ideas in a well-organized fashion. However, finding the right words and phrases to connect your ideas can be challenging. If you struggle to come up with the right transitions in your writing, don’t worry: we've provided you with a cheat sheet for various popular transitional words and phrases in English! These phrases are useful connectors that will make your writing flow in a natural and organized way. They’re also key phrases to use in the writing sections of English exams like the IELTS or TOEFL. (more…)

Is Learning English grammar not important for speaking?

You Don’t Need to Separate English Listening from Speaking!

The fact of the matter is – you can’t listen your way to English fluency no matter how hard you’d try. To consider yourself being fluent in English, you have to be able to SPEAK. To develop your ability to speak, you have to SPEAK. If most of your English improving related efforts are geared towards listening to: Specific English learning audios; Films and videos in English; Podcasts on various websites… … then you will greatly develop your English listening and comprehension skills, there’s no doubt about that! Your ability to produce fluent English speech, however, isn’t going to come along at the same pace for the simple reason that you wouldn’t have trained your mouth to speak, and that makes an awful lot of difference when it comes to one’s ability to deliver a verbal message. It’s pretty much the same as if you were trying to learn to drive a car by watching other people drive without attempting to sit behind the steering wheel yourself! Not all listening activities, however, are a waste of your time. As a matter of fact, you can’t actually separate listening to English and speaking in English because these two activities are quite naturally interlinked. (more…)

India – the Home of Fluent English?

Hi Everyone, Today I came across a website about English fluency called Fluentzy.com. It’s pretty cool in the fact that they’re basically talking about all the same issues with speaking fluent English that I do! You have to speak English and have pre-planned the speech in your head. But when it comes to speaking with a person for real, you just can’t say a word... And the actual reasons behind this issue is the following – learning the English language through your mother’s tongue. You know – it’s the traditional way of learning a language. You write the English words down in your copybook and translate them into your native language. Then you memorize the meaning of those words and you’re perfectly fine with using them in your writing, speaking in the class and so on. However, there’s one very important problem that will surface only later on. Namely – the English language you learn, is far from fluent! You can’t speak spontaneously – and this is the factor that separates a fluent English from one that is handy ONLY when it comes to writing a letter, or reading a book. The credit for inventing the system at the fluentzy website goes to Indians, by the way. As it’s said on the website, I quote: "England may be the home of English, but India is the home of fluent English. India is where English fluency building was systematized for the first time in the world as a distinct teachable subject. An Indian loved the English language so much that he studied its fluency-secrets in great depth and designed the world's first dedicated course in English fluency building (as distinct from EFL/ESL courses and translation-dependent bilingual courses). And that was KevNair, better known as the father of fluency development" - The New Indian Express Well, thank you KevNair for your contribution into the English fluency! ;-)

English Has Brought the World Together!

Sachin, who is a customer of mine and a prolific contributor to my YouTube channel, inspired me to write this article, here's part of the comment he left on my YouTube video where I'm arguing against the prevalent view on Americans as being lazy language learners: One should accept that English language has contributed to the world more than any other language. English has brought the world together. English is not just British or American’s language anymore - it's the world’s language. Knowledge of the world got available to everyone only after converted in English! Well, we can all argue ad nauseam whether the English language is taking over the world, is it having a detrimental effect on smaller languages or not, and also accuse Americans for being lazy and ignorant when it comes to learning foreign languages. All that is actually IRRELEVANT when we consider the simple fact that the English language has indeed brought the entire world together in a lot of different ways and we, foreigners, are undoubtedly much better off learning it and speaking it as opposed to constantly moaning and complaining about the Evil Empire of English which is soon going to obliterate the smaller nations and countries! But in case my words are making your blood boil – consider this: We need to separate POLITICS from the LANGUAGE when discussing such matters! Just think about the German language and the activities that Germany was involved during WW2, for example. No sane person would condone what was done during those years – atrocities brought upon the world by the fascist regime were outrageous, to say the least. Do we hate the German language for the criminal past of the country that it represents, however? Of course we don’t! Same goes with the English language. A lot of people just follow the mainstream opinion of the US being the evil empire and tarnish the English language with the same brush :mad: Yes, there’s no denying that here’s a lot of controversy about the warfare the country is getting itself involved in – mostly when it suits its foreign policies (pursuit for energy sources, expansion of American companies and interests in the war-torn countries etc). The English language, however, BELONGS TO THE WORLD - just like Sachin pointed out. It belongs to anyone who speaks it! I love English, and when I go about my daily spoken English practice, I don’t considering myself as a traitor of humanity just because I happen to like a language that’s being spoken by people who are involved in activities that we mightn’t approve of. As a matter of fact, it’s also spoken by millions upon millions GOOD and BRILLIANT people all over the world! It’s actually ridiculous, when you think about it, that so many people associate the English language with something NEGATIVE or something that they believe to be a bad thing. If speakers of all world languages abandoned speaking them by virtue of tyrants and murderers having spoken them, there’d be not a single language left in the world! Or if you believe that the English language spreads like a virus amongst indigenous languages and brings all the bad things with it – fast food, crime and drug abuse then you must be seriously deluded… It’s not the language that does it. It’s the Western way of life, if you like, but it’s not the language that is to be blamed for it. Hadn't it been the English language that is spoken by the world’s superpowers linked to all the “bad” things (obesity and fast food culture, consumerism and using the third world for easy and quick profits), it could have just as easily been French, Dutch, Spanish or German! Anyway, as I said – we could be arguing about these matters till cows come home because it’s very difficult to change people’s opinion on a certain subject. Better let’s talk about how EXACTLY the English language has brought the world together :!: (more…)

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Do You Really Suck At Speaking English?

I’ve received countless e-mails saying basically the same thing – “Robby, I’m a useless English speaker, when I try to speak with other English speakers – especially native ones – I get very nervous. I’m struggling to say the right words and I hesitate a lot when speaking…” Well… Maybe you’re right… to a point. You’re useless as far as you believe you are, and the more you convince yourself of it, the deeper the conviction gets ingrained into your mind. It’s the so called self-fulfilling prophecy when something happens just because you believe it will happen :!: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should turn a blind eye to the problem and just ignore it. While ignorance may be bliss on some occasions – such as ignoring strangers’ opinion of your level of English simply because they can’t possibly know how well you speak just because you’ve made a mistake when speaking with them – you still have to deal with your emotional and mental issues preventing you from fully enjoying English conversations. So what I’m saying is – even though the issue is there, you have to change the way you view it. You have to analyze the nature of the issue, make conclusions and see if you really are as useless as you think. Subsequently, you should come to realize that the issue isn’t as bad as you believe it is, and that conclusion in turn should make you into a more confident English speaker. Essentially it’s the same self-fulfilling prophecy – only now you have to get it to work to your favor! Now, are you ready to turn your assumption that you suck at speaking English on its head? (more…)

Does Reading Help You Improve English?

3 Similarities Between Speaking in English And Driving a Car

I’ve been a driver for a good few years – since 2006, if I’m not mistaken, and nowadays driving comes just as easy to me as walking or running! There was a time, however, when I wasn’t comfortable while sitting behind the wheel. As you can imagine, any learner driver has their bad moments, and when I look back at my first attempts to drive a car, I can only be thankful to God I didn’t cause any accidents because there were too many opportunities for that to happen! “What’s driving got to do with speaking in English?” – you may ask. “This is a blog for foreign English speakers – not drivers!” For starters, both processes are life-skills you have to LEARN, so no matter which one you’re looking at – spoken English performance or driving a car – they both involve a great deal of learning before you get any good at it. Furthermore, both driving and speaking in English can be easily affected by a multitude of mental and emotional factors, and that’s where it gets really interesting, my friends foreign English speakers! ;-) (more…)

Focus on Your Achievements & Ignore Perfectionists if They Make You Feel Worse!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRbhtJtOWIg If you focus on grammar aspects of your language when you speak, you may experience the following problems: * feeling overwhelmed; * constantly analyzing you own speech; * lacking self-esteem :mad: All this in turn may result in terrible English fluency issues whereby you feel like all your achievements in terms of your ability to speak in English are for nothing! You may feel like you’re back to square one, you may feel as if you’re never going to be a decent English speaker – and it definitely doesn’t help if someone is constantly trying to point out your mistakes in the process! The reason why I recorded this video is because I was contacted by one of my blog readers and he asks me if it’s OK to do spoken English self-practice instead of speaking with people online who are focused way too much on the grammar aspect of the English language. Basically he says he reads a lot, and then he summarizes each chapter by speaking out loud and developing his fluency that way. He feels much better and more confident while engaged into that exercise than speaking with smart-arses who are hell-bent on getting his grammar right without being aware of what they’re doing to his confidence and fluency. (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…)

Why It’s a Bad Idea to Categorize English Idioms when Learning Them!

English Idiomatic Expression: “Run the Risk of…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6URoB2eVnY If you’ve been ignoring the power of English idiomatic expressions, you’re running the risk of not being able to express yourself in a native-like way! Today’s expression is “to run the risk of”, and I’m sure you noticed that I used this phrase in the previous sentence, didn’t you? ;-) When you learn this idiomatic expression, don’t try to analyze it too much, don’t try to make mental notes of this phrase being yet another one of those featuring the verb ‘to run’ (similar to “to run off” or “to run out of something”) and definitely don’t try to put all those idiomatic expressions containing the verb ‘to run’ under the same category! If you’re anything serious about your English fluency, you must look at every new phrase and expression individually, so this one – “to run the risk of” – is ONLY EVER to associate with words that it would go with in a natural conversation: (more…)

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You Shouldn’t Learn Irregular Verbs This Way: Bring – Brought – Brought

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9RoRzEzdwU Today I witnessed how a beginner English learner was using a smart phone app to build English vocabulary. The girl spoke a word in her native language, the app picked it up, translated into English and while doing so it also provided all three basic forms of the verb in question: “Bring, brought, brought.” Cool! – you may think. It’s a great app! ;-) Well, just forget the app for a moment, and let’s see what happens in your brain when you memorize a word string such as “Bring – brought – brought”. You memorize all those three words in the same exact sequence, and next time around when you think of using the verb “to bring”, the other word -“brought” – is going to appear alongside. You think it’s handy? Well, think twice :!: What if you’re trying to have a conversation with someone in English, and you’re starting a sentence by saying: “My supervisor told me I have to bring...” – but then suddenly the word “brought” jumps right in making you hesitate? Do you think it’s an unlikely scenario? In reality it’s EXACTLY how the typical English fluency issue manifests itself, and learning such unnatural word groups contributes to non-native speakers’ inability to speak fluently big time! So watch the entire video above, and if you’ve any questions or queries – please post them in the comments section below. Robby

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dsvsomHg_c Hello my friends foreign English speakers! I’m back with another English irregular verb, and this time around it’s TO BEAT. As you know from my previous videos (if you don’t, please watch it HERE, it’s super-important!), you shouldn’t be learning English irregular verbs by repeating and memorizing word strings such as BEAT, BEAT, BEATEN (these are the respective Present, Past and Past Participle forms of the verb TO BEAT). Instead, you should learn each of those verb forms as part of a word combination and that way you’ll achieve all the following: You’ll avoid getting mixed up when using BEAT and BEATEN in real life; You’ll be able to use these irregular verb forms without much THINKING; You’ll INSTINCTIVELY feel when to use them – just like a native speaker! So, without a further ado, let’s look at the phrases containing the various forms of the irregular verb TO BEAT, and alternatively you can watch the video or listen to the podcast above to gain even more insight into using the following phrases: It BEATS me; I BEAT the traffic on the way to; BEATEN to death. (more…)

Do You Get Intimidated by Eloquent English Speakers? You Shouldn’t!

One evening while on my way home from work I was listening to an evening chat show where some Irish-American was analyzing the aftermath of the last American presidential election and its effect on the Republican Party. And here’s the funny thing: Even though I understood EVERY SINGLE WORD he was saying, I couldn’t really figure out what exactly he’s trying to say! Every sentence he uttered was very vague; it was as if he was saying EVERYTHING AND NOTHING at the same time… After his interview, I realized that he was basically trying to convey the following: the Republican Party are still slow to embrace the fast-changing ethnic composition of the American population, and in his view it was one of the decisive factors as to why Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to Barack Obama. It took him 5 minutes or more to explain something so simple, and I can’t think of a more fitting English idiom to describe what he was doing than the following: he was beating around the bush! :grin: He was using super-sophisticated industry lingo. He was rephrasing a single concept many times over and he was repeating the same things all over and over again. I was starting to feel lost while trying to make sense of the tangled mess that his speech was! :mad: Some time ago such an experience would have made me feel very bad as a foreign English speaker because I would have started doubting my own English skills: “My English isn’t good enough because I can’t make out what he’s saying…” “He speaks so fluently and he’s using all these means of expression so professionally… I’ll never be able to speak like him!” Such and similar thoughts would be crossing my mind, but now I know better than start beating myself over not being able to replicate such a seemingly eloquent speech. In fact, now I wouldn’t even want to be able to speak like that, because not only would I be confusing people who are listening to me but also myself! I’d rather say a lot with fewer words than use a never-ending cascade of verbal content which is going to overwhelm my conversation partner or listener and make them acutely aware of their inability to match up to my train of thoughts. How about you? Are you often feeling inferior to some very eloquent English speaker? Are you admiring their ability to use sophisticated language? Is it making your English skills pale in comparison? Then keep reading this article and you may just change your mind! ;-) (more…)

Is English Language Taking Over?

How I Said “Check” Instead of “Receipt” in a Hardware Store (And What You Can Learn From It!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06p6_a0QP6U I’ve been an English fluency mentor for a good few years now, but it doesn’t mean I speak in English perfectly at all times. You see, I’m an active proponent of letting it go when speaking in English which invariably involves making a few mistakes here and there, and there’s nothing wrong when a person capable of speaking fluent English says something wrong. In this particular situation I was paying for goods in a hardware store, and I wanted to ask the cashier for a receipt. Instead of using the word “receipt”, however, I worded the request the following way: “Can I have a check, please?” Needless to say, I corrected myself immediately after saying the wrong phrase – “Can I have the receipt, please?” is the proper way of asking for a proof of purchase at a till (the word “check” is used when you’re in a restaurant). Was a feeling bad about confusing the cashier though? Not at the slightest! :-) (more…)

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

English Idiomatic Expression: “You know what I mean?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i7zojzhcbc If you think that the phrase “You know what I mean?” doesn’t warrant a second glance and is one of those overused phrases that one should rather eliminate from one’s vocabulary – you’d better think twice! This expression allows us deal with situations when we’re stuck for words and we just can’t finish off a sentence, for example. If you think it’s better to say nothing and just stare at your conversation partner than say “You know what I mean?” – good for you! Personally I will go for “You know what I mean?” over an awkward moment of silence any day, and while this phrase can indeed be overused if you get into the habit of saying it after every sentence, it’s still a great way of implying that both you and your conversation partner know what you’re talking about anyway, and any further explanations can be omitted. Chat soon, Robby ;-)

How I Made a Nonsensical English Mistake 3 Times in a Row!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPgouuqziNI Today I got talking with one of our secretaries about reading for the simple reason that I had Michael Grant’s book “LIES” sitting on the table. After a short chat about reading in general she asked me if I own a Kindle reader to which I simply wanted to reply with “Well, my daughter owns a Kindle reader!” Guess what? I made a completely stupid mistake in that simple sentence, and not only that! I tried to say the sentence once more, and the very same thing happened again! Then I started pronouncing those words for the last time, and to my dismay I made the same stupid mistake for the THIRD TIME! :mad: Now, the only explanation to this is a glitch in my brain. I can’t see any other reason as to why it should have happened  especially considering the fact that the mistake was 100% illogical! (more…)