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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English Teacher Puts Skype Student on the Spot… It’s NOT Teaching!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPUbiQrq7yI Hello, my dear fellow foreign English speakers! It’s me, Robby, from English Harmony and welcome to my video blog. Today, I’m going to tell you what I experienced, what I witnessed to be more precise, while watching a video of a particular English teacher teaching a foreigner how to speak in English obviously, right. Why I’m saying this, it’s all got to do with my own English fluency coaching program that I’m going ahead with currently called Fluency Star. I stopped taking new students on board for the simple reason that there’s no more places available. My schedule is pretty tight as it is but anyway, I was watching this particular video and what struck me, what surprised me big time was the way the teacher conducted the whole conversation. Here’s what she did. I’m not going to name the teacher or provide any links to that video in the description box below for the simple reason that I don’t want to discredit other people and knock them. Maybe they do what they do for good reasons, who knows, but the way I see it, it’s very inefficient and here it goes, right. (more…)

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…)

Useful Sophisticated English Words & Phrases

When I arrived in Ireland 15 years ago, I went onto a mission of learning English vocabulary because I thought it was going to help me overcome my fluency issues. As a result, I acquired hundreds upon hundreds long English vocabulary lists also containing plenty of words that even native English speakers don’t use and they simply didn’t have a clue what they meant when I tried using them in real life! I like to call such English vocabulary “sophisticated”, and I’ve also written extensively on this topic on my blog, here’s a couple of articles: Don’t Learn Some Obscure English Words that Even Native Speakers DON’T KNOW! Simple vs Sophisticated Vocabulary? It’s All Just Semantics (Interpretation)! Now I know better than to learn English words that nobody uses in day-to-day communication; I’d rather use to learn the vocabulary I already know in DIFFERENT WAYS thus enabling me to speak about virtually any topic. Sometimes, however, knowing how to use certain sophisticated English words comes in handy and as it was pointed out by one of my YouTube commentators, some English tests and exams may include such vocabulary. So, without further ado, let’s learn some useful English expressions containing words that you may not have heard before – or maybe you’ve heard them a few times and wondered what they actually mean. Needless to say, it’s strongly advised you acquire this sophisticated vocabulary by learning the entire word combination thus ensuring you’ll be able to USE the word in question! (Read this article to understand what exactly I’m talking about here) (more…)

Spoken English Topics and Technical Aspects of Spoken English Exercising

New English DIY Terms I Learned This Summer While Redecorating My New House

To tell you the truth, my friends, this has been the busiest summer I’ve ever had in my life so far! I’ve been spending days in my 9 to 5 job, and my evenings and weekends were spent on redecorating my new house. And I’ve got to tell you – it was one hell of a job! Even though professionals got hired to do most of the heavy lifting, there was still a lot for me to do. And don’t get me wrong; the job isn’t anywhere near finished. Right now I’m sitting in my office staring out the window with no curtains and running my laptop on a battery because the socket hasn’t been connected to the mains yet! Anyhow, throughout all the stress and hardship I had to go through while dealing with the plumber, electrician, window repair men and a bunch of other folks, I’ve learned a thing or two about DIY and related stuff. Here’s a list of new English DIY related phrases and terms I’ve learned this summer while redecorating my house, and who knows – maybe you’ll find some of them handy when engaged in similar activities! (more…)

Recording Your English Speech is CRUCIAL!

Get the FREE eBook “How To Stop Struggling With English Writing”!

As you can imagine, I spend quite some time writing blog posts for my website and over the years I’ve become pretty good at it. Well, it’s not that I’m bragging about my writing skills, but the facts are speaking for themselves – I can write a 1600 word article in about two hours. Sure, I would have spent some time planning what to write about and editing and publishing it on my blog would also take some time. Still the writing speed is the most notable improvement I’ve achieved when it comes to my English writing skills – compared to how I was writing 4 – 5 years ago – and I believe I could refer to it as “fluent English writing”. What does it mean in real terms? Well, I think I wouldn’t be exaggerating by claiming I can write as fluently as I can speak; I can just start typing and keep at it until everything I’ve wanted to express has been typed into the word processing software. And this is where we can start looking at the reason why so many foreign English speakers find it difficult to compose a coherent piece of writing. While writing an e-mail to an English speaking friend or a customer at work mightn’t be the biggest problem, bigger tasks such as writing formal letters, essays and short stories may present massive difficulties. You may find yourself sitting in front of a monitor for half an hour having written just one or two sentences, and for some strange reason you just can’t overcome the so called ‘writer’s block’. Is this you? Did you recognize your frustrating behavioral patterns in terms of struggling with English writing after reading the above paragraphs? If so – I’ve something really valuable in store for you! (more…)

Passive English Immersion is Good for Keeping Your Vocab Refreshed

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

English Idiomatic Expression: “To The Best of My Knowledge”

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 welcome back to Robby's English Harmony video blog! Today I decided to bring another English idiomatic expression video to you and this time around the video in question is – no, not the video in question, the phrase, the expression in question! Sorry guys for making this mistake but I'm just going to leave it here on record so that you can see that Robby is not really afraid of making mistakes, he practices what he preaches and that's the path that you should be going down as well if you're anything serious about your English fluency improvement that is, right? So basically don't be afraid, don't be embarrassed of making mistakes, saying something wrong, going back, correcting yourself, it's all part of the game. Anyway, going back to the original subject, the expression in question for today is “to the best of my knowledge”, right? So if you're interested in learning how to use this particular English idiomatic expression, just bear with me for a few more moments and everything is going to become crystal clear to you my friends! (more…)

Is It OK to Point Out Mistakes Made by Others?

Top 15 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Foreigners Settling Down in an English Speaking Country

1. Be realistic about the level of interest in your national background by others. Be proud of your origins, but don’t be obsessed with telling every single person you meet about your country, your nationality, how “How are you” sounds in your native language, the name of your president, your favorite national soccer team… People will listen to you just to be polite, but don’t forget that for someone living in an English speaking country like the US, Australia or the UK, the name of your country might not ring any bells at all! Personally I quite like it when people don’t ask questions about my origins right off the bat and I’ve realized by now that whenever they DO ask that question “Where are you from?” right after you introduce yourself, it’s just small-talk really. So I think we foreigners should be realistic about the interest of locals in our culture and we shouldn’t be too enthusiastic! In my current job, for instance, I got two know two girls a couple of weeks ago and they didn’t seem to notice the fact that I was a foreigner. Not that they couldn’t tell it, but our conversations never went that far. Only recently they showed interest in my background, so I think it’s natural to speak about those topics when you get to know someone better rather than boasting to everyone how cool your country is! Many years ago I used to work with a bunch of Romanian lads, and believe me – there was nothing more annoying than listening to hours long stories of their home country and how great life was back there, and how miserable their situation is in Ireland… For Christ’s sake, will you get a grip on yourselves?!? Don’t take me wrong – I’m not saying there’s something wrong with being proud of your nationality, not at all! My point is – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and maybe you’ll realize the conversation is boring for your conversation partner. IMPORTANT! -> Why I'm highlighting parts of text in RED? 2. Stop spotting mistakes in native English speakers’ conversations and pointing them out to others. There is no such thing as correct English! English is spoken differently in many countries and regions so don’t be the perfectionist telling everyone how awful locals speak, and how grammatically wrong some of the most commonly used local phrases are. Oxford English and real English are hundreds of miles apart, and you’ll be more practical by learning spoken English as it’s spoken in the country you live in than spotting mistakes and pointing out that according to proper English standards this or that particular thing doesn’t sound right. I can tell you one thing I’ve heard quite often in the local Latvian community when we’ve touched the topic of English learning and improving – “Irish themselves don’t speak correct English!” I think it’s rather a handy excuse not to improve one’s English (if the locals don’t speak correctly, how they can accuse me of speaking wrong?), or just trying to show off one’s academic English knowledge which actually has much smaller practical application when going about the daily life. We, foreigners, should realize one thing – theoretical correctness has little importance in dealing with real life situations. So don’t be the perfectionist by keeping saying “Has it been done?” if you hear everyone else around you using a much simpler colloquial phrase “Is it done?” Also it’s important to understand that native English speakers don’t make mistakes because they lack spoken English skills. Their mistakes are “natural”, and we can’t use it as an excuse not to improve our English! (more…)

How to Decide Which Tense and Which Verb Form to Use?

Funny English Phrases: Death & Dying Related English Idioms

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDgv198X3lA This is the last funny English phrase video for YearOfEnglish.com subscribers… The reason being – the year is drawing to an end, and so is my commitment to keep publishing new videos for you guys every couple of weeks! :-( That’s why I decided to publish death and dying related English phrases video today – to mark the end of the year and your journey to English fluency. Every end, however, is just a beginning to something new, so don’t get sad while watching this video – instead make sure you listen to the dialogues carefully and REPEAT the phrases you hear. Needless to say, many of those death related idioms can be used in various situations in life – not just when someone is close to passing away, so watch the video above, use the transcript below for better understanding and start using those death related English idioms in your daily conversations! (more…)

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 22- What a small world!

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")); Helloooo everyone out there, How are you all doing? Welcome back again to English Harmony and a new of chapter of our “Free 30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course” where you'll learn something new every day with context and examples, and so will you today. So without wasting even a single second, let’s get down to the business and read the given context: Context (First day at college) Josh (moving to a table with his coffee): Can I sit here? Emma: Yeah, of course. Josh: So it’s your first day, how are you feeling about this new place? Emma: I think it’s nice. But as I am a bit shy, so getting along with people takes me some time. Josh: Oh, I see that. I am sorry, but you didn’t mention your name. Your name, please? Emma: My name is Emma Clarke, and you? Josh: I am Joseph Watson aka Josh. Emma: Great! Nice to meet you, Josh. Josh: Same here! So you must have scored quite well in your high school, I mean getting admission in this college is not easy. Emma: I was an average student at my school times. It’s because of sports quota why I have been admitted to this college. Josh: What a small world! I also got admission from sports quota. Emma: Oh really! What do you play then? Josh: Tennis, and you? Emma: Me too. Why don’t you come to practice today at 4:00 pm? Josh: Alright. See you then at 4:00 pm sharp at the sports complex. Emma: Done! Bye-bye. Josh: Bye. Expression-What a small world! Explanation- People often use this expression in reaction to an unexpected coincidence. “It’s a small world!” is also a phrase that can be used instead of “What a small world”. Let’s say you meet a person who is from the same university where you graduated from, or you and your friend decide to go to a common place without even telling each other, these are situations where you want to use this phrase, as it’s a coincidence that same things happened unexpectedly. So how did find today’s chapter? Did you like it? I hope today’s lesson added some new vocabulary to your arsenal of active vocabulary which will be definitely useful in your daily life. Make sure you read this article thoroughly and practice it with your own examples so as they become your second nature. See you tomorrow with some new topic and vocabulary. Till then keep learning and improving. Take care and? Bye-bye. 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"));

Tricks with English Words – Horse Show or Horror Show?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSL5kMBnHE8 VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hello boys and girls, and welcome back to English Harmony video blog! I just wanted to let you know guys that today I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show; but what did I just say? Was it Dublin Horse Show or Dublin Horror Show? You see, I said it quite fast: “I got an invitation to Dublin Horse Show!”; it could have actually been either, horse show or horror show. There is no sure fire way of telling which one it was. It all depends on the context my friends, and this is one of those things that so many foreign English speakers just won’t accept. Sometimes when you don’t really understand what the particular word means, people start getting all confused and complain about double meanings in the English language and how can they possibly understand all the meanings of a single word, but the answer is the context my friends, obviously. Just the first time around when I mentioned Dublin Horse Show, you probably would be a little bit doubtful what show I meant but then in the conversation that would quite naturally follow that, you would realize what I’m talking about. If I say, “I got an invitation to Dublin Horror Show and I’m going to bring a zombie mask with me”, obviously I’m talking about a horror show, something like a horror walk, something like a Halloween’s day parade where I want to put on some different masks and go trick and treating around town and knocking on people’s doors and getting sweets, and sometimes getting some abuse as well. If I was to say that I’m going to a Dublin Horse Show and I’m going to watch how horse riders are show jumping then obviously it’s all about horses.  It couldn’t possibly be horror show, right, so as I said, context explains everything. Context clarifies everything and I suggest you check out this link if you haven’t already done so previously while watching my videos and browsing my blog, and in this article, there’s a video as well.  You can perform a test and see how these words co-locate, how they go together and that’s all about the context you’re learning basically. You acquire a vocabulary contextually. A word is never on its own, and even if there’s a few words together, such as Dublin Horse Show, there’s always some more context to follow. It’s never just a single phrase on its own! (more…)

Can You Learn American English by Learning American Phrases & Idioms?

101 Wrong Reasons (and 1 True Reason) Why I Love the English Language

Wrong reason # 1: English grammar is so simple – there aren’t any noun genders , very little declination of nouns and conjugation of verbs, and you only have to add ‘s’ or ‘es’ at the end of a third person singular noun, that’s all there is to it! Everybody’s gotta love this language for its simplicity, isn’t that right? Well… how about Chinese grammar? Technically it’s even simpler than that of English – Chinese words can have one grammatical form only and all I’d have to do is just stick them together! If I’m so in love with the English language because of its simplicity, why didn’t I start learning Chinese instead? Could it be that the simple grammar isn’t actually one of the true reasons I love the language?... (more…)

Best Videos and Articles on English Harmony in 2015 + Happy New Year!

English Idiomatic Expression: “For Some Reason Or Another”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPwJVHMo5V8 Hello my friends foreign English speakers! (in case you’re wondering why I’m not referring to us – foreigners – by the name “non-native speakers”, please read this article HERE!) For some reason or another I just haven’t been feeling like creating a lot of content lately, so I’ve been taking it easy for a couple days. I’ve gone to bed early. I’ve done a bit more English reading in the bed before falling asleep. Basically I’ve been replenishing my energy stores so that I can start writing articles and producing videos for my English Harmony blog with a renewed vigor! Now, did you notice how I used the idiomatic expression “for some reason or another”? Even though I knew the reason behind my actions – lack of energy – I still used this English phrase for the simple reason that it simply sounds cool and I like using such and similar English phrases A LOT! Normally, however, you’d use the phrase “for some reason or another” in situations when you’re not sure of the true reasons behind the activity you’re discussing OR if you simply don’t want to elaborate on that. (more…)

English Collocation: “In-depth Research”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aX7Cy027jA If you’ve ever been attending an academic institution, you’ve certainly conducted an in-depth research into some matter – be it deep-sea volcanic activity, bird migration or the true causes of the American Civil War. I picked these topics totally randomly, and it just goes to show that you can do an in-depth research into pretty much ANYTHING. Some research, however, no matter how profound and comprehensive it is, is bound to return some imprecise and misleading conclusions, so I always like to question everything I hear, see or read in the mainstream media. Not that I’m some mad conspiracy theorist, it’s just that I’ve heard a lot of contradictory information about a wide variety of subjects over the years, and now I’m quite cautious when it comes to making important decisions in life. (more…)

How to Reduce Clauses to Phrases in English Sentences

My last article for English Harmony was about when you can and can’t omit relative pronouns such as “who” and “that” from sentences. What we concluded is that you can omit the pronoun when it acts as an object, as in the sentence below: The dog (that) Mary is petting has brown fur. (The relative pronoun “that” is optional here.) But you cannot omit the pronoun when it acts as a subject, as in this sentence: The dog that is eating a biscuit has brown fur. However, astute reader Juhapekka pointed out that in examples like the above sentence, you can’t omit only the pronoun, but you can omit the pronoun plus the form of “to be” (in this case, “is”): The dog eating a biscuit has brown fur. (This is a well-formed sentence!) This introduces an entirely new topic in English grammar called clause-to-phrase reduction. This article will explore clause-to-phrase reduction, explain how and why it happens, and hopefully make the mysterious world of English grammar a little bit less confusing. (more…)

What to Do If I Find Spoken English Self-Practice Boring…

Don’t Judge Foreign English Speakers by Their Mistakes!

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

Don’t Analyze the English Language Too Much – It’s Not Good for Your Fluency!

What Happens When You Don’t Learn English Contextually?

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! One of my blog readers posted a piece of English writing on my blog here and asked me what was wrong with it. Having taken a closer look, I quickly realized that the author of that piece had used quite sophisticated language, but the words just didn’t go together which was a telltale sign of lack of contextual English learning! So here it is: Now, it’s no secret that in order to learn to speak and write in English in a native-like fashion you have to embrace the concept of contextual English learning. Well, I guess I should put it this way – it’s no secret to those who’ve been following my blog and watching my videos. (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…)