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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20 most common ‘Words often confused’ in English

I really liked the ‘desert’ at the party. What? How can someone like a desert at a party? Oops! I made a mistake up there. It should have been ‘dessert’ in the above sentence which is the sweet course eaten at the end of the meal. English pronunciation can be quite weird sometimes, isn’t it? It is for this reason that not only non-natives, but also a native English speaker gets confused with its usage sometimes, and hence they are often referred as  ‘Words Often Confused’ or 'Homophones'. Hey to everyone out there, Welcome back again to English Harmony and I hope you are all doing good. So today we will learn about ‘Homophones’, which are also known as ‘Words often confused’. What are Homophones? Homophones are the words that have exactly the same pronunciation but different meaning. The root of the word ‘Homo’ means ‘same’, while ‘phone’ means sound. Be it a non-native or native, people get confused with these homophones because of the same pronunciation; so you see, you are not alone. There is no doubt ‘practice makes a man perfect’, and the same goes with learning homophones. They are not that easy, but with a regular practice and proper learning, it will be a piece of cake for you. So without further ado, let’s get down to the business and see some of the most common homophones in English: Accept/ Except Accept (verb): consent to receive or undertake. Example: I accepted his proposal for the meeting this weekend. Except (Preposition): not including, other than. Example: Everyone came to my birthday party, except Ben. Advice/ Advise Advice (noun): guidance or recommendation about what someone should do. Example: You should always follow his advice if you want to improve your game. Advise (verb): recommend that someone should do something. Example: He advised his brother not to be in the bad company of rogues. Ate/ Eight Ate (verb): The past form of ‘eat’. Example: I ate my lunch after I came from school. Eight (noun): The number between seven and nine. Example: There are eight rooms in our house. Bear/ bare Bare (adjective):  not clothed or covered. Example: He bared his chest to show his scar. Bear (noun): a large, heavy mammal with thick fur and very soft tail. Example: I saw a black bear in the zoo yesterday. Desert/ dessert Desert (noun): a waterless area of land with little or no vegetation typically covered with sand. Example: Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. Dessert (noun): the sweet course eaten at the end of the meal. Example: I don’t think a meal is complete without a dessert. Deer/ dear Deer (noun): a hoofed animal, the male of which usually has antlers. Example: I saw a deer on a roadside while dropping Joe to school. Dear (Adjective): regarded with deep affection Example: “God bless you my dear son”, said the church father. Die/ dye Die (verb): to stop living. Example: His uncle died in a car accident. Dye (noun): natural or synthetic substance used to color something. Example: He bought a dye for just 40 cents. Band/ banned Band (noun): a flat, thin strip or loop of material used as a fastener or as decoration. Example: John gave Emma a friendship band on her birthday. Banned (verb): past form of the ban. Example: Alcohol has been banned for some days in some of the cities due to the increasing number of accidents. Haul/ hall Haul (verb): To pull or drag something with effort. Example: He hauled his bike out of the shed. Hall (noun): the room or space just inside the front entrance of a house. Example: The students were ordered to assemble in the hall so admit cards could be distributed. Higher/ hire Higher (adjective): the comparative degree of high. Example: The prices of these products go higher every day. Hire (verb): pay to be allowed to use something for an agreed period. Example: I can't say for sure if they will hire you or not. How many of them did you know? A few? Or all? I hope you would have found this article useful and easy to learn. Make sure you learn their meanings off by heart so you never get confused down the line. Lemme know in the comment section below about your views and suggestions and keep learning and improving. In case you wanna give my personal blog ‘Your English Vocabulary’ a knock, you are always welcome. Till then, take care and? Bye-bye.

English idiomatic expression: “Pretty much the same”

Hi guys, in the video above you can find out how to use the following English idiomatic expression: “Pretty much the same”. Why such and similar expressions are very important for us, foreigners? First of all – they enable us to speak instinctively and spontaneously. Once you’ve memorized a phrase, you can produce it at an instant when the right situation presents itself! Secondly – they drastically reduce the amount of mistakes you might potentially make when speaking because you learn a correct phrase AS IT IS and you’ll only ever use it without changing it! So watch the video above, make sure to repeat the phrase a few times in order to memorize it, and also make sure to come up with a few sample sentences on your own to imprint the idiomatic expression “Pretty much the same” into your mind. Chat soon, Robby ;-)

Confusing English Grammar: “Roast” vs “Roasted” Chicken – Can We Use Verb Base Form as an Adjective?

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

Phrases, idiomatic expressions and collocations are the basic units of the English language and if you make sure you learn lots of them, you’ll develop your ability to speak automatically and without much thinking. Quite often, however, foreign English speakers may face the following problem – all those phrases have been memorized but it’s very hard to use them in real life! So, the million dollar question is – how to ensure you can actually use them in real life instead of JUST KNOWING them? (more…)

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FGC Goal #1: American Slang Phrase #3 – ZONED OUT

Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Good morning my friends! :grin: So far so good – I’m on the third American phrase today and there’s only 47 more phrases to go! Today’s American slang phrase is to be ZONED OUT and it’s an informal way of describing when someone is daydreaming or in a state of absolute relaxation. You know the feeling when someone talks to you but you don’t even hear them? That’s a typical example of you being ZONED OUT, so next time it happens you can say to that person: (more…)

Confidence Lesson From Kristen Stewart For All Foreign English Speakers

A while back I published a blog post where I analyzed Benicio Del Toro’s interview. I did it in order to prove to any of you that even native English speakers will hesitate, use simple, short sentences and sometimes even say complete non-sense when asked a question they haven’t had time to think about properly! So is it such a big deal if we, foreign English speakers, can’t say something straight away when we get stuck in a middle of a sentence or can’t wrap words around our thoughts? Of course it’s not! There are only two things that make us different from native English speakers – we hate when others make assumptions about our level of English and many of us are perfectionists trying to finish a sentence once we started it and also trying to make it perfect in terms of grammar and word choice. If you learn to ignore those two factors, however, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t give an interview just like Kristen Stewart from Twilight did - or even a better one! Now, watch the video below, listen carefully to the whole interview and then read the rest of this article. It just might make a big difference to your spoken English confidence, my friend! ;-) (more…)

Memorizing Grammar Rules to Get a Promotion? How Crazy is That?!

Back in the day when I was still naïve and thought that learning plenty of English grammar rules would avail of increased fluency, I used to dedicate a significant amount of time to re-reading all those grammar rules and memorizing them off by heart. I mean – I was actually MEMORIZING the grammar rules like a POEM! Here’s an example: When to use the indefinite article “a”: With nouns in singular only First mention with countable nouns In predicate with the verb “to be” Instead of “every” I won’t list the rest of the stipulations on when the indefinite article is used because this is just an example of what I used to memorize so that you get the drift of what I’m saying here. Basically I would memorize LONG LISTS of stipulations and example sentences describing specific aspects of English grammar and I was hoping that when I know them all, I’d become a fluent English speaker. I was even hoping that this exercise would help me get a promotion in the job I had at the time! (more…)

Update From Robby: New Job, Fluency Star Finished, Spoken English Self-practice Still Going Strong!

It’s Normal to Forget English Phrases, Expressions and Collocations!

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! Has it ever crossed your mind that there’s certain English phrases you’ve stopped using? Here’s what made me realize it – when I check back my older blog articles and videos, I come across certain means of expression I don’t really use these days! For instance, when I watch my videos recorded back in 2011, I notice that back then I was using the phrasal verb COME ALONG quite often, and come to think of it, these days I don’t really use it anymore! Here’s another example – when I was updating my Fluency Star website, I read a sentence I’d written a couple of years ago: “… students OUGHT TO be punished…” and it immediately made me remember the TV show Mythbusters where Jamie was using this English auxiliary verb quite often, and I’d picked up that habit from him. Nowadays I don’t really watch Mythbusters anymore, and as a consequence I’ve actually stopped using OUGHT TO in my own English writing and conversations! Now, quite naturally it might beg the question – is this a worrying trend? Should I be concerned that I don’t use certain English means of expression anymore? Is that indicative of worsening English skills? Or maybe it means I have some sort of a memory problem and I should get checked out for an early-onset Alzheimer’s? ;-) Well, it’s not all that bad, my friends! I’m not developing dementia any time soon, and neither are you – forgetting certain English means of expression is totally normal, so please read this article to find out why it happens! (more…)

This English Stuff Is Too Easy, Give Me Something More Difficult!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Hello Everybody! ;-) This year has finally drawn to an end, and I have to tell you my friends that it's been one hell of a ride :!: I've created a couple more products on top of the English Harmony System, namely - Fluency Gym Coach Program (helping my fellow foreigners with confidence and goal-setting when it comes to English improvement) and Accent Genie Program (focusing on American Pronunciation); I've started a couple of new blogs - EasyIdioms.com and BestEnglishFiction.com (I haven't been updating them as often as I'd like though...); I've finally bought my own house (well - 90% of the money is borrowed from the bank anyway, so technically it won't be mine for another 30 years...) and the redecoration work kept me busy during the summer months - having said all that, however, I never stopped delivering articles and videos on my blogs EnglishHarmony.com and AccentAdventure.com! On top of that, I've been going to my 9 - 5  job on a daily basis so as you can imagine I've been busy as hell but I've truly ENJOYED every single second of it! Why? Because receiving e-mails and comments such as this one, for example, makes it all worthwhile: That's right my friends. It's only thanks to YOU that I'm sitting here in my home office behind the laptop and making all these videos and articles. If not for YOU, there'd be no-one to read it all, there'd be no-one to watch my videos, there'd be no-one to leave comments on my YouTube channel and my blog. And if not for those who've committed with their money and dedication - namely, my CUSTOMERS, I wouldn't be able to run my operation because - let's face the truth my friends - I wouldn't have the financing necessary to run my websites, create the products and produce the videos! So I'd like to take this opportunity and THANK YOU ALL VERY, VERY MUCH for staying with me throughout this year, and may all your wishes come true in the New Year 2014!!!

English Collocation: “Sparked Heated Debates”

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…)

Common English Phrases to Use at Home & With Kids

I got the inspiration to write this English phrase compilation from a guy called Guillermo, and here’s the comment he left on my blog a while back: So basically he wants to learn useful English phrases to be used around the house describing common everyday concepts such as eating, playing, tidying up, going to bed and others. And come to think of it, pretty much all English phrases I’ve published on this blog focus either on your social life such as the small talk phrases or your professional life such as these industry specific phrases. That’s why I decided to compile a bunch of useful English phrases you can use at home when speaking with your own kinds in order to improve your English – just like Guillermo does – or when there’s other English speaking kids around. Speaking of which, I can tell you based on my own experience that your English may be quite advanced, but you may still find yourself struggling to speak with little children using simple language :!: I clearly remember how I came to Ireland all those years ago and my daughters started attending the local school. I was in the same situation when I had to help them with their homework or speak with other kids at birthday parties, for example, and I realized that my English was lacking simple phraseology that native speakers use in daily situations at home! So, without further ado, let’s start listing commonly used simple English expressions you’ll be able to use at home! ;-) (more…)

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

English Fluency Issues Is a Blessing in Disguise!

Hi guys and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I'm Robby, your friend and English fluency expert, and this time around I'm going to tell you that all these English fluency issues you might be having (and most likely you are having them, otherwise you wouldn't have visited my blog and you wouldn't be searching for English fluency improving related information online, right?) doesn't mean you're a total loser. More often than not, it's a good thing! Now, if you think that it's total nonsense – I mean, how could English fluency issues be good for you? Surely if you didn't have them at all then you'd be more successful in your career, in your professional life and in your private life, right? But think about this now, my friends. Just because you have these issues whereby sometimes you can't talk normal, fluent English, it forces you to work so much HARDER on your fluency than if you didn't have those issues at all! (more…)

How to Sound More Native-like in English: Start Saying “Yeah” and “Nah”!

English Idiomatic Expression: MUST HAVE

This time around we’re going to look at the following English idiomatic expression: MUST HAVE Well, to tell you the truth, it’s not really your typical idiomatic expression because it only consists of two words. I’d be more precise if I told you that MUST HAVE forms idiomatic expressions in combination with other words, and here’s a few examples: I’m not feeling very well, I MUST HAVE eaten something bad! So, you’re back from your trip – what was it like? It MUST HAVE been some experience! Was Julie off for a couple of days? She MUST HAVE been sick! Now, I hope you’ve started getting the bigger picture in terms of how MUST HAVE can be used. But you’re always welcome to watch the video above where I’m giving you extra info on how to use this expression in real life! Cheers, Robby ;-)

7 Ways to Kill Your English before You Even Start Speaking

Over the years I keep seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again by those who want to improve their English. But it’s really shocking to see that not only is reading and writing based English learning encouraged but speaking English is discouraged! Moreover, I found this genius approach of improving English by cutting out speaking on an authority website - I'd better not give its name here... Well, it would be folly to hold the website responsible for all their contributors posts – after all, even Wikipedia.org is full of wrong and misleading facts. Still the first point on the article I read voices the standard notion in the industry – and here it is: 1. Talk less and listen more. Brilliant, isn’t it? Shut your mouth, foreign English speaker, don’t practice your speech but instead focus on passive language input! This is the gem among all recommendations I’ve read online targeted to foreigners who want to improve their English, and I can’t stress enough how WRONG it is. (more…)

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

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…)

FGC Goal #1: American Slang #31: YOU THINK YOU’RE SUCH A BIG DEAL?

Simple Action Plan To Boost Your English Fluency

Hi my friend, this time I’m going to give you a plain and simple action plan to instantly improve your English confidence – and I bet you’ll be surprised how EASY and EFFECTIVE it is! So enough ranting – let’s get to the matter straight away! Step one – STOP being ashamed of yourself! Did I just insult you? Sorry, no offence meant. But the cold truth is – everyone who struggles speaking English fluently is actually shy deep inside. Whether you are aware of it or not – you constantly COMPARE yourself with others, or with a particular person. It could be your best friend, or workmate, or a person being your role model – and it constantly nags at you – ‘He’s speaking better than me…’ Well, there’s not a better solution than to stand in the front of a mirror and tell yourself loud – I don’t need anyone as a role model. I’m sufficient with my English and there’s NOTHING that could make me feel low and lose my self-esteem. So the first step is to recognize the very fact that you constantly keep on being shy speaking in front of particular people, in public etc. Step number two – when you speak a natural English speech, just THROW away all the grammar rules from your mind! Am I being too extreme making such a statement? Well – I don’t think so. Bear in mind – I didn’t say ‘forget all English grammar’. What I meant was – don’t put double load on your mind when you speak English. Your sub-consciousness will do the work for you. Everything you’ve learnt so far grammarwise will manifest itself anyway. So if you speak and try to think about the grammar rules at the same time – you just make unnecessary effort. You will inevitably make your speech slower and distorted. Better don’t think anything ‘extra’ – just speak and enjoy being right here and now with the person you’re communicating with. The third step – ACCEPT the things the way they are. Even though it may sound completely opposite to what you desire – there’s a great wisdom in this approach. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to strive to improve your English. But with not accepting yourself as your are, you are creating a never-ending conflict with your inner self. In other words – you’re doing more damage to your English confidence rather than improving it. Anyone has embarrassing moments while speaking – even speaking their own language. A week ago I went for holidays to my native country and had to deal with people speaking my language, of course. And you know what? It’s really weird, but I noticed myself starting stutter and mispronounce the words… I hadn’t spoken to other natives but my family and closest friends for a while, and this sudden change made me speak badly even in my own language! So think about this again and accept yourself. When such moments happen while speaking English – the last thing you want to do is – start worrying. Be yourself – and it will eventually yield more results than constantly fighting with yourself! OK, my friend, I hope these simple things will help you in your way to fluent English! Robby P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

Does Integration of Foreigners into English Speaking Society Work?

How to Deal With Situations When You Don’t Understand the Other English Speaker At All!

About a week ago I asked you to share your stories about embarrassing English conversations on this blog post. I got a good few comments sharing various experiences, and one of those stories was submitted by a Finnish fella Juhapekka where he shares his experience of having a conversation with a South African chap whose accent, slang and fast speech was indistinguishable. So the basic issue faced by Juhapekka was dealing with situations when you just can’t understand what your English speaking conversation partner is talking about, and I recorded this video to address this particular issue! ;-) If you’ve also had similar experiences in the past and it keeps happening to you every now and then that you don’t understand a particular person and you feel very embarrassed about the whole experience – please watch the video above and you’ll find out what exactly you can do about it. Any questions and comments are welcome! ;-) Robby

FGC Goal #1: American Collocation #7 – RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK, TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE

Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! You definitely must have noticed the typical military facility settings in American TV programs and shows: Guard towers and massive light beams probing the area; Helicopters flying all over the place; And most importantly – the facility is always RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK AND TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE! That’s today’s American English phrase, and if you’re interested in my take on the whole thing, please watch the video above! As always, I’m touching upon other subjects in the video as well, so you’re guaranteed to have an even deeper insight into intricacies of the English language and you’ll most likely learn more idiomatic expressions on top of the one I’m focusing on today - RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK AND TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE. (more…)