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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Easy Guide to Proper Arguing for Foreign English Speakers

If you read this blog or any other website dedicated to foreign English speakers and their language improvement, I’m sure of one thing – you wouldn’t find much advice on how to express yourself during times when you’re annoyed, angry, agitated or arguing with someone. Well, there might be a certain amount of phraseology and vocabulary given, however, there’s one thing I can say for sure – it would be still somewhat toned down and wouldn’t really resemble the kind of English language you’d be facing in real life. And it’s kind of understandable because English teachers probably don’t want to be teaching too much of the bad language. Especially considering that cursing and using profanities tends to be one of the first things you’d pick up when learning a foreign language, so I would imagine that people just assume that cursing, swearing and expressing your anger or dissatisfaction is something that foreign English speakers are familiar with anyway, so it’s not really worth focusing on. Well, I tend to disagree! Being familiar with and being able to USE something in real-life spoken English are two different things altogether! The only way you’ll be able to use such expressions yourself is if you repeat them and learn them by way of spoken English practicing, there’s no other way around it. And if you think that you’ll never need such expressions anyway because you’re a nice person – think twice my friend. There comes a time when even the nicest person needs to blow off some steam and get the negative emotions out of their system, let alone having a confrontation with another English speaker. And do you know what happens when you are having that argument having never actually practiced the related phraseology yourself? Well, it’s pretty simple – during the heated conversation all of a sudden you find yourself unable to say a word because the added adrenaline rush will make you even more prone to saying something wrong, so some prior practicing is definitely advisable here! So without further ado let’s look at a number of relevant English phrases that will definitely come in handy in extreme situations such as arguments and confrontations with other English speakers. (more…)

Why is It Difficult to Speak with Certain People in English?

Your English isn’t the same at all times. It changes. At times you may notice you can speak very fluently, with ease. Yet sometimes you may start struggling with speaking in English with someone for no apparent reason! You have to bear in mind that ups and downs are natural in any human related performance, and spoken English is no different. Unless, of course, you’re experiencing frequent occasions when your mind goes blank and you’re unable to speak in English at all – then we can start speaking about the typical English fluency issue which haunts so many foreign English speakers. Anyway, fluctuating English fluency is normal, and there are many factors playing an important role in your English fluency – your stress levels at the time of speaking, your overall mental performance, familiarity with the topic you’re discussing and also frequency of your spoken English practice. The more often you speak English, the better you should be able to perform – it’s actually common sense, isn’t it? Yet one of the most influential factors holding sway over your spoken English performance is PEOPLE you speak with :!: Haven’t you noticed that it’s very easy to communicate in English with certain people while others make you nervous and your start mispronouncing even the simplest words? I bet you can remember situations when you’ve discussed quite complicated matters in English and it didn’t present any difficulties to you at all; yet on other occasions you’ve felt uncomfortable speaking about simple, everyday topics! As I said – much of it depends on who you speak with, so let’s delve deeper into the issue so that I can finish off this article with a few pieces of useful advice on how to manage your English conversations regardless of who is your chat partner! (more…)

English Idiom: “It’s Not to Be Sniffed At!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKQ7Edx8v80 Do you know what people generally mean when they say IT’S NOT TO BE SNIFFED AT? More often than not, they say this kind of thing when a certain amount of money is offered, for example, and the person in question perceives it to be worth considering. In theory you can also say IT’S NOT TO BE SNIFFED AT in relation to just about anything you perceive worth risking for or taking any other type of action. (more…)

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

3 Things ANY Foreigner Can Implement To Boost Their English Communication Skills!

1. Stop agreeing if you didn’t fully understand what was said to you! On way too many occasions foreign English speakers will just pretend having understood the other person and nod in agreement – but it may potentially damage the whole conversation and result in an even bigger embarrassment than if you just asked your conversation partner to say it again! There are many other English phrases you can use in such situations other than the overused phrase “Sorry, I don’t understand”; if you only ever respond to something you don’t fully get using that phrase, you may indeed make an impression that you’re not being able to speak English properly. Partially it’s because natives rarely say “I don’t understand” when they haven’t heard what’s being said, and partially it’s due to the fact that when a foreign English speaker says “I don’t understand”, most native English speakers will assume that that person’s English isn’t good enough. I know it’s just not the case on most occasions because we foreigners, just like native English speakers, might not get the message that has been communicated to us simply because we didn’t hear it properly (background noise, distinct accent of the speaker, very fast speech etc.) and it’s got nothing to do with our English listening skills. (more…)

Speaking English in Unfamiliar Settings: Why You’re Ashamed of Speaking With Your Friends in English

Lower Your Standards if You Want to Improve Your English Successfully!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syzsaP5x8Gc You may have this idealistic image in your head as to what kind of English you should be speaking – grammatically super-correct, formal, rich and eloquent English spoken by high-class native English speakers – but achieving and maintaining such high spoken English standards may not be just unrealistic. It may also be very unhealthy to your confidence as an English speaker to constantly compare your existing level of English against your desired level of English in terms of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and speed at which you speak because it will serve as a constant reminder of your shortcomings as an English speaker! You may believe that most people speak sub-standard English and it’s unacceptable for an intelligent person. You may have this perception that your English just HAS to sound like that spoken by native English speakers – and if it doesn’t, you’ll be always branded as an underachiever. And you may also strongly believe that text-book English taught to English students in schools and universities is the ONLY way forward and that the conversational English is just English for the masses and not for such a well-educated individual as you. Guess what? By upholding such unrealistically high standards you’re making it really hard for yourself to actually improve your English! (more…)

If Someone Keeps Asking “Do You Understand Me?” – You May Indeed Run Into Fluency Issues!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng3ebQ96lkE In today’s video I’m discussing a particular experience I had with my plumber recently. So, here’s the setup. I’m a foreign English speaker having some issues with my heating system at home. I’m ringing the company who delivered my stove to come over and inspect the heating system. A native English speaking plumber arrives the next day and we’re having a conversation about the issues I’m having. As you know, I’m a fluent English speaker (no bragging – I’m merely stating a fact!), so you’d think there would be no problems with getting the message across and being understood by a native English speaker, right? Well, that’s right – everything I was saying, the plumber understood perfectly! The main problem of the communication, however, was him saying at the end of each sentence: DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? :mad: (more…)

Is It Possible to Become TOTALLY Fluent In English After 24 Years?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLWqdebqOzI I received an e-mail (or a comment – can’t really remember what it was because it got deleted by mistake!) the other day by one of my blog readers where he asked if it’s possible to master total fluency of the English language while living in an English speaking country for 24 years. As an example he provided the following video of two foreign English speakers involved in a debate in a TV studio – please check out the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6tfkPwIpL0 I have to admit that the two professional journalists in the studio are completely fluent indeed, and it’s also a fact that 99% of other foreigners would look up to them because of their ability to speak fluently. (more…)

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 6- School Life

Incredibly Powerful and Super-Simple Way Of Using Google to Find the Right English Words to Say

It happened this morning. (By the way - Happy Paddy's Day :!: - here you can watch a video I made last year!) I was about to publish yet another tweet on my Twitter account where I’m tweeting the most commonly used English phrases, idioms and collocations. This time around, I wanted to tweet an English idiom “on the off chance” which means “in the unlikely event”: As always, I started writing a sample sentence containing the idiom “on the off chance” – just to give my Twitter followers a general idea of how this particular expression is used. So, I started the sentence with “On the off chance…” and then I was about to continue with a conjunction ‘if’. A split second later it just didn’t seem right, however, that the sentence should be “on the off chance if…” I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling when you say something in English, but it just doesn’t seem right, aren’t you? This “gut feeling” develops along with your English fluency, and it can be explained by highly developed contextual links among English words in your inner vocabulary. Speaking in simple terms, it means you’ve heard and used certain English phrases so many times that you intuitively know in what context they’re normally used. In the example with creating a sentence containing the English idiom “on the off chance”, I intuitively felt that it might not normally be followed by the conjunction ‘if’; it just didn’t sound right. A few nanoseconds later another viable option crossed my mind – ‘that’. The sentence seemed to flow so much better with ‘that’ than ‘if’ – “On the off chance that…” But how to make sure I get it 100% correct? (more…)

Don’t Analyze Your English – Part 2: Why Questions Beginning With WHY Are the Worst!

English Idiomatic Expression: “Run It By Someone”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQQy5tHp4GA

Learn Pronunciation by Equating English Sounds to Your Native Language!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzs2YgGuwFk Hello everyone! ;-) Today let’s touch upon some English pronunciation related topic, namely - how you learn pronunciation of new English words and how to mimic the original pronunciation to the best of your benefit when you are trying to speak them out loud. And here's a very interesting situation I encountered a few days ago at work. There’s a Polish girl in my workplace who's only learning to speak English and she asks me questions through her friend whose English is much better and every day I have to answer a few questions in relation to how you say this or that particular thing in English or how you pronounce a certain word or phrase. The other day, she asked me through her friend how to pronounce the word "drank" and then, to my big surprise, she repeated in perfect English "drank" and guess what happened? I tried to think of why she didn't make the typical mistake that so many foreign English speakers do when they read an English word letter by letter and then they would most likely say something like "drrrank" in case that particular language has the rolling ‘R’, as in my language. In Latvian, we roll the ‘R’s and many native counterparts of mine would have said "drrrank" with a rolled ‘R’ sound! So in this particular case Polish is a Slavic language, which is quite close to Russian. And it happens so that I speak Russian too and I know for a fact that all these languages have the rolling ‘R’s - so why did she not say, "drrrank"? Why'd she say "drank" in perfect English? Here’s why: she equated the English sounds to her native Polish sounds because she wasn’t looking at a written word but was simply trying to MIMIC what she heard! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “It’s been dealt with”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCA4gJjTuvM Today I’m going to provide you with a new English idiomatic expression which will come in handy in situations when you have to report completion of an assignment. “IT’S BEEN DEALT WITH” is the phrase in question, and you’re more than welcome to watch the video above where I’m discussing the merits of this particular phrase. To be honest with you, there are simpler expressions which can be used in pretty much the same situations: “It’s done”, “It’s sorted” or “I’ve done it”. “It’s been dealt with”, however, implies that your assignment has demanded quite a lot of effort, so you may want to use this expression when you’ve been dealing with a complicated matter and you’re telling someone that it’s been dealt with. Chat soon, Robby ;-)

No-one to Talk to? Practice English With Yourself!

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…)

English Words I Used to Mispronounce

Why Should You Improve Your English Spelling Every Day?

Some language learners often say that English is one of the most difficult languages to master because of the spelling. Indeed, it is tricky to remember all those words that spell differently than they sound because the language is full of exceptions and contradictions. For example, the word “knight” sounds as it should begin with a “n,” and the world “psychology” does not sound like it should have a “p” in the beginning. Well, the rules are the rules, can’t break them. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of other words where it is simply difficult to apply logic when unsure how to spell them. However, by using the following learning tips, you can make a fast progress! (more…)

Words to start a sentence – 35 Perfect Ways of Starting Sentences in English!

Here’s what’s going to boost your English fluency to incredible heights: Your ability to START a sentence WITHOUT much THINKING! Just think about this: how many times have you found yourself in a situation when you have to say something in English but you just can’t say the FIRST word? (more…)

There’s Always Someone Worse Off Than You!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK5J94FKo3M

English Idiomatic Expression: “Common Denominator”

Types of Phrasal Verbs- Transitive, Intransitive, Separable, Non-Separable

Hey there everyone, How are you all doing? Today I want to share with you how phrasal verbs can help you improve your English vocabulary and how you can easily learn them. Here's an example: " I don’t like if someone cuts in while I talk". In the sentence above, phrasal verb ‘cut in’ means to interrupt in between. Phrasal verbs are undoubtedly one of the most crucial parts of our daily conversation. Hence, I thought why not shed some light on their types and what they are. So before we jump to their types, let’s see in brief. What is a Phrasal verb? A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and another word or two, usually a preposition or an adverb. They are very important in English as they help you sound more natural when you speak or when you write. Natives usually don’t find it hard to understand them (of course, because it’s what they have been listening to since birth), but when it comes to a non-native, it is definitely not a piece of cake to understand and use in their spoken English, especially if you are a beginner. TYPES OF PHRASAL VERBS Some say there are two types of phrasal verbs, while others four. It has always been a topic of discussion and different English teacher explain it depending on the sources they learned from. I don’t say books or sources they learned from were wrong. I went through many of the English books, blogs, and resources and found a different answer at every place which can make a learner even more confused with the concepts and types. So without beating around the bush, let’s see their types and what they are. Phrasal verbs are basically of two types : Intransitive phrasal verbs Intransitive phrasal verbs are the phrasal verb that does not require a direct object. Examples- • Hurry up! • Robert dropped by at my place yesterday. • I didn’t do that good; I am just expecting to get through. Many of you will comment that the second example is wrong because you see an object in the sentence. So before you all do that, let me explain what direct object means. “A direct object is the group of words that is acted upon by the verb. And as you can see, in the second sentence “at my place yesterday” is not acted upon directly by the verb ‘drop’, so the sentence doesn’t have any direct object and the phrasal verb is intransitive.” Transitive phrasal verbs Transitive phrasal verbs are the phrasal verbs that have a direct object. Examples- • I am going to throw these biscuits away because they have expired far before. • My boss turned down my leave for my brother’s marriage. • My mother came across my lost earphones while cleaning the house. Transitive phrasal verbs are of two types: Separable phrasal verbs- The phrasal verbs in which you can put a direct object in between and separate them, hence they are called separable phrasal verbs. Examples of separable phrasal verbs • You can’t even do the initial steps properly; you need to do it over. • He doesn’t want to let his mother down by failing this time. Inseparable phrasal verbs- The phrasal verbs in which you cannot put a direct object in between and separate them are called inseparable phrasal verbs. Example of inseparable phrasal verbs • I ran into one of my old colleagues yesterday on a bus. (CORRECT) • I ran one of my old colleagues into yesterday on a bus. (WRONG) • He can easily get the role as the lead artist in his brother’s absence; both brothers take after their father almost 100%. (CORRECT) • He can easily get the role as the lead artist in his brother’s absence; both brothers take their father after almost 100%. (WRONG) So that is it for today. I hope you have a clear understanding of their types and the difference between them. You can find here more articles and examples of phrasal verbs. See you soon with some new topic and vocabulary. Till then keep learning and improving. Take care and? Bye-bye.

English Idiomatic Expression: “More often than not”

Reading Aloud – Perfect Way of Practicing Your Spoken English!

Does Reading Help You Improve English?

This time we'll be talking about reading and if you can improve your spoken English by reading plenty of English literature – starting with newspapers and ending with books. I’ve actually wanted to discuss this topic for a good while now, so believe me – I’ve got a lot to say in this regard! ;-) OK, here’s the controversy about reading and its effectiveness when it comes to improving your English. Reading is being mentioned all across the board as one of the most effective tools of improving one’s English. And I can partially agree with this only as far reading understanding is concerned. My conviction is however, that being able to communicate effectively is paramount if you live in an English speaking country. While being literate when it comes to reading and writing English is undeniably an essential part of general English knowledge, I think that the ability to speak fluently comes above all else. And this is why it’s so controversial – while the whole English improving industry is build mostly on reading and writing, hundreds of thousands of foreigners are struggling with speaking the English language! (more…)