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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Crush Your Phone Interview Today!

Tring-Tring… Is your phone ringing? Is that a phone interview? If the answer is yes, I bet investing some quality time here will be worth it. Hey there everyone, How are you all doing? (more…)

The ONLY 3 English Grammar Rules You Need to Know to Speak Fluent English

Personally I stopped studying English Grammar the traditional way years ago. By now I’ve actually forgotten most of the grammar terms and rules I had hammered into my brain, and just as well – they only prevented me from speaking English fluently. Why? Simple enough – I used to spend way too much time analyzing my thoughts, applying Grammar rules and preparing my speech in my head. It was killing my English fluency, and it took me quite a while to figure out the simple truth – English collocations (phrases, idiomatic expressions, most commonly used sentences) already contain all necessary grammar in them! When I speak English now, I don’t think about grammar anywhere near as much as I used to. I just rely on my “gut feeling” and get fully involved in conversations. My intuition takes care of English Grammar! For instance, English preposition usage rules determine that you have to say “ON this occasion” but the word ‘situation’ goes with a preposition ‘in’ – “IN this situation”. Personally I don’t look at it as something that has to be constantly recalled during English conversations. I mean - once you learn the relevant collocations – “in this situation” and “on this occasion” – it sticks with you and you don’t have to consciously think which preposition to use every time you speak. Having said all this, however, I have to admit there are a few English Grammar rules I always bear in mind, and they’re just about the only ones you need to know on top of naturally occurring English phrases and collocations to form correct and fluent English speech. Of course, I’m not saying the ones below are the only English Grammar rules you’ll EVER need. But let me remind you that this blog is for advanced foreign English speakers therefore the main presumption is that you don’t have a problem with Basic English Grammar – it’s completely out of the question here! So, let’s look at the 3 English Grammar Rules that will help you to maintain your English fluency – especially on occasions when your English fluency experiences slight dips and you need to be a bit more careful when speaking. (more…)

Funny English Phrases: Death & Dying Related English Idioms

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…)

Anger Management as Part of Your Overall English Fluency Improvement Plan

How to Talk About Past & Future Without Using Corresponding English Tenses

You may have been led to believe that in order to indicate a specific English grammar tense, you HAVE to conjugate verbs and actually USE that particular grammar tense. Well, guess what? It’s not always the case! In conversational English it’s more than possible to refer to the future or the past without using those specific English tenses and without conjugating the corresponding verbs. And here’s an example to clearly illustrate what exactly I’m talking about here. Let’s take, for example, the following sentence: “I’m planning to visit my friend tomorrow.” Now tell me please what is the grammar tense we can observe in this sentence? It’s Present Continuous – “I’m planning” – isn’t that right? Yes, that’s right! And now, tell me please what you’re actually referring to – present or future – in this particular sentence? Before answering the question, just let me draw your attention to the fact that if we’re looking at the sentence purely from a grammar standpoint, it is indeed the Present Continuous Tense you can observe, that’s right. But here’s the question you have to ask yourself: “Am I really emphasizing the fact that I’m MAKING PLANS at this particular moment in time or am I stressing the fact that I’m visiting my friend TOMORROW?” So, are you referring to the present or the future in this particular sentence? Of course it’s FUTURE! You’re using Present Continuous to refer to a FUTURE event so the take-home lesson is: There are situations when you don’t have to use the corresponding grammar tenses to refer to the future or the past! And now, just to provide you with a deeper insight into the whole thing, let me give you a number of phrases and expressions to be used in your English conversations. It’s going to save you time and effort trying to figure out the right English grammar tense to use – instead you can just learn those phrases and use them when a fitting occasion arises! (more…)

English Teacher Destroys Student Confidence by Scolding Them? It’s Unacceptable!

Having English as the ONLY Language in the World Would Be a Disaster…

A while ago I published an article called It’d Be Great to Have English as the Only Language in the World in which I looked at a purely fictional scenario of a world where English would be the only language spoken. Now, in that particular article I looked at the positive aspects of such a scenario such as lower levels of discrimination and higher levels of integration. Today let’s look at why such a scenario would be a total disaster, so basically we’re going to look at the cons of having English as the only language in the world. And please bear in mind, in my scenario English hasn’t conquered other languages, we’re basically assuming that English has ALWAYS been spoken all over the world and nobody would even think of the possibility of speaking a different language because no-one would even know what it’s like. In other words, we’re assuming that since the dawn of time there’s been a uniform language development all around the world and this language happens to be English. So, without further ado, let’s start looking at the negative aspects of having English as the world’s language when compared to the actual situation when we’re having literally thousands of languages spoken on this planet! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “The Big Picture…”

Here’s how to improve your English listening skills when listening to my video: put the headphones on, playback the video and write it all down while listening to it! Hi guys, hi boys and girls and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! In today's video we're going to look at the following English idiom: The BIG Picture. Or alternatively, you can say: The Bigger Picture. It doesn't really matter which one you go for, whether you say "The big picture" or "The bigger picture", these two word combinations are pretty much interchangeable, they mean the same thing. Now. In reality when you'll be using the phrase "The big picture" you would be putting it in different contexts, such as: "When looking at the bigger picture" or "If you look at the big picture" or your ability to see the bigger picture, right? You'd be using it in different contexts but the very two-word combination "The big picture" always remains the same and it's very idiomatic by its nature and if you are curious as to what it means, when to use it, how to use it, place bear with me for a few more minutes and everything's gonna become crystal clear to you, I promise! (more…)

Don’t Even TRY Watching Common English Mistakes Videos on YouTube!

I was browsing YouTube the other day, and I came across some video where an English teacher talks about common English errors made by foreign English speakers. It wasn’t that teacher’s only video – not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, there were LOADS of videos of this nature on that particular YouTube channel – let alone other channels where different teachers are talking about pretty much the same things: Most commonly made English mistakes; Things not to say when speaking in English; English mistakes made by Spanish people; English mistakes made by Russians… … and so on and so forth. And you know what? I think this illustrates a terrible trend in the English teaching community! :mad: Everyone is focused on the aspect of making mistakes. Mistakes this, mistakes that, you can’t say this, you can’t say that… The only thing that these videos achieve is the following: THEY FREAK ENGLISH STUDENTS OUT! (more…)

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

Idiomatic Expressions: Why I’m Highlighting Some Bits of Text in Red in My Blog Posts

Here’s the short answer – they’re bits of spoken English any foreign English speaker should know to communicate effectively! They’re word combinations used by native English speakers and by using them you’re going to make your spoken English sound more natural and native-like. English collocations, phrasal verbs and sayings all fall under the broad category of these idiomatic expressions, and to put it simply – you can’t come up with these sort of sayings just by sticking the words together; you have to learn the EXACT phrase or word combination to be able to use it :!: There are also typical full English idioms among them, but I have to admit I have some reservations towards learning certain idioms like “It’s raining cats and dogs” or “pot calling the kettle black.” They are typical English idioms that you’ll find on any decent English idiom list online, yet they’re rarely heard in real life, if at all. My take on the whole English idiom thing (like it’s on spoken English in general) is the following – you don’t need to hammer loads of English idioms in your brain that you’re not going to use. You’d much better off using your potential as a foreign English speaker by learning idiomatic expressions because there’s a much bigger chance you’re going to use them in real life! How about the following ones: “for the argument’s sake”, “to jump to a conclusion”, “fit for the purpose”? These are typical idiomatic expressions that have some characteristics of full idioms, but at the same time it would be possible to derive their meaning from the words alone. Also, they don’t even need to be long phrases to fall under the category of idiomatic expressions. “On target”, “straight away”, “I’m all ears”, “big time” and similar short expressions are the ones that can make a difference between you being perceived a so-so English speaker or quite an advanced one! Not that you should care what others think of you, but still it’s nice to be capable of communicating with native English speakers like an equal, isn’t it? ;-) So to help you with learning these idiomatic expressions, I’ve been highlighting them in my blog posts in red color so that you can immediately see which bits are useful to memorize! (more…)

Different Types of English Speakers

Repetition in Terms of English Learning & Weightlifting is the same!

When you go to gym and engage is resistance training, you perceive sets of repetitions as an integral part of your fitness routine. When you learn and improve your English, however, you may find that you have some subliminal aversion (you perceive it as something bad despite not really knowing why) to the very term ‘repetition’! You might perceive it as something robotic, something mechanical. But it doesn't necessary have to be like that :!: Yes, traditionally repetition and memorization is performed in a boring and mechanical fashion whereby you repeat individual English vocabulary words followed by the translation in your native language (and it’s very wrong, please read this article to find out why!) I wholeheartedly agree that this kind of repetition is boring indeed and it’s also detached from your real needs as a foreign English speaker. What you need instead is – contextual repetition & memorization. (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…)

Should We Make Sure Everything We Say Is Grammatically Super-correct? My Opinion on Correct English!

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! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, it's Robby here from EnglishHarmony.com and welcome back to my video blog! In today's video we're going to discuss the correctness of the English language. And the fact of the matter is that there's so many things that we say in our English conversations that would be considered as incorrect if we went by the textbook English grammar rules. And if you paid particular attention to the last sentence - I said something incorrectly! I said “there's so many things” whereas in reality I should have said “there are so many things” because the noun “things” obviously is in plural in this case so the verb “to be” should have been conjugated to reflect that, I should have said “there are so many things”. And this is just one of those examples where something that's incorrect, it has been accepted in the general public and everyone speaks like that and there's nothing wrong with it. So it begs the question and as a matter of fact this particular phrase “it begs the question – to beg a question” has also been criticized as being incorrect English, right? In reality we should say “it raises a question”. But this phrase “it begs a question” is also used by everyone. And I would say that it actually makes it correct. (more…)

Does It Irritate You If Native English Speakers Make Wrong Assumptions About Your English?

Improve Your Spoken English by Using Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a term normally associated with language learning flashcards and spaced repetition systems (SRS). I have to tell you right off the bat though that I’m not a big fan of flashcards because I’d been using the same technique when building my English vocabulary a number of years ago. In the end I realized that memorizing something that’s translated into your native language is actually going to impede your spoken English fluency :shock: No matter how controversial it may sound, language learners all over the world are becoming aware of the downsides of traditional English learning methods. Heated debates have sparked on language learning blogs about efficiency of using flashcards, for example and many language learning enthusiasts realize that a major shift in terms of language learning is happening right now. Still many language learners are oblivious to the simple fact – repeating and memorizing a phrase or a word in your target language with the corresponding translation in your native language will make it much harder to actually speak the target language :!: So that’s probably the most valuable piece of advice I can give you regarding spaced repetition and learning and improving your English – don’t create flashcards and don’t use any English learning SRS that are based on translating between two languages! But let’s stop whining about things that are wrong. Once we know that the best way to acquire new English vocabulary is to repeat and memorize words and phrases and associate them with explanations in the English language, we can move on to discussing the very nature of spaced repetition. (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression “This Time Around”

3 Ways of Hard-wiring Unnatural English Collocations into Your Brain

When fluent English speakers speak, they don’t stick separate words together. Every word they pronounce automatically triggers the next one; the whole sentence is rather a chain of words linked together. Let’s say, for example, you’re asked a question “Would you like to come along to a party on Saturday night?” Most likely your response would begin with words “Thanks for…” and then you’d follow it by either “…asking” or “…inviting”, and come to think of it, when you pronounce the first words “thanks for…” the rest of the phrase kind of comes out of your mouth by itself, doesn’t it? That’s a typical example of collocating English words – they would normally go together in spoken and also written English, and foreign English speakers find it much easier to speak if their vocabulary has been built based on collocations as opposed to memorizing separate words. Well, the aforementioned phrase was a very simple response, and most likely you’d be able to respond using such a simple phrase even if you didn’t memorize it as a single unit of spoken language. Yet I’d say you picked it up by mimicking other English speakers because you surely must have heard someone say “Thanks for asking” or “Thanks for inviting” and that’s why the phrase got imprinted into your mind. Of course, by listening alone you won’t become fluent, you need to speak to add new phrases to your active English vocabulary, but I can’t deny that it does work to some extent. Anyway, when the wrong methods are used and wrong associations between English words are established, you may unwillingly create unnatural collocations. They manifest themselves in the following way – you start speaking by saying a word or two, but instead of continuing with a word that logically complements the phrase, you say something completely unrelated, something out of context, so to speak. OR, such out-of-place words may start pushing themselves into your mind even before you speak, and you may get a feeling as if someone else has taken control of your mind. Freaky? That’s how I used to feel and that’s how many other foreign English speakers feel if they use the wrong English learning methods. But now I’m going to list the worst of them so that you can avoid them like the plague! (more…)

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…)

Easy Guide on Omitting English Relative Pronouns “Which, Who, and That”

Do you ever think English grammar is just trying to confuse you? If you’re trying to learn English, all the grammatical rules and exceptions can be overwhelming. Heck, even as a native English speaker, I often feel like English was designed specifically to be as complicated as possible! For example, why is it that both of the following sentences are great...         The dog that Mary is petting is very fluffy.         The dog Mary is petting is very fluffy. ...but only the first of the following two sentences is acceptable?         The dog that has brown fur is very fluffy. (This is fine!)         The dog has brown fur is very fluffy. (This is bad!) In this article, I’ll be talking to you about sentences in which you can (and can’t) omit relative clauses, such as who, that, or which. These are called contact clauses, because they consist of two clauses that are right next to each other, and therefore they come into contact with each other. By the end of this article, the sentences above will be confusing no more - and you’ll be forming contact clauses of your own :!: (more…)

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

How to Give Weight to Your Opinion? Use Smart English Phrases!

I’ve blogged extensively about the importance of being able to conduct English small-talk and get involved in simple, everyday chats with other English speakers as opposed to trying to sound smart using sophisticated expressions because there’s always a chance you’ll get tongue-tied. Also I’ve stressed how important it is not to lose your head when you can’t remember a certain word or a phrase in English but paraphrase instead. Let’s say for instance, you’re having a chat with your friend and you’re trying to explain that you weren’t aware of a particular fact, but then it slowly became obvious to you. The phrase you’re trying to remember is “it dawned on me” – which means that you started to realize the truth. But if you can’t remember the exact word ‘dawned’, there are still dozens of ways to convey the same message – “I suddenly realized”, “and then I got it”, “I started to understand” etc. While it’s important not to get too hung up on using the exact same phrase you can’t remember – or else you risk constantly getting stuck in the middle of conversations! – it’s also important not to ignore specific English phrases or so called idiomatic expressions that might just help you make your point more effectively and also would help you sound more like a native English speaker. Just imagine that you’re watching news and they’re showing the latest developments in the world which unfortunately way too often involve natural and man-made disasters, atrocious crimes and other bad news that normally make the headlines. You’re watching the news with a couple of your friends, and halfway through the news your own worries and problems that were so pressing a mere ten minutes ago, all of a sudden seem to have become ridiculously unimportant. Compared to what people are going through in North Africa and Middle East at the moment, your life is actually a walk in the park! Now, you can express your feelings to your other family members in a couple of sentences just like I did in the paragraph above, OR… you can use a single phrase – “Yes, it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?” That’s the beauty of such and similar English phrases – they allow you to express your feelings in a single phrase! Moreover – they can be used in many different situations so a handful of smart English phrases can indeed help you explain yourself like a native English speaker! But now I’m going to give you some more examples of smart English phrases so that you can clearly see the importance of learning them. (more…)

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

Spoken English Grammar – How to Explain Stuff – Sentence Starters Ending With IS

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! As you may already have noticed, spoken English and written English are different in that you don’t really speak the way you write. In written English, you have plenty of time of constructing well thought-through sentences, whereas when you speak, you have to produce INSTANT speech, which, when put on paper, will seem a bit chaotic. And here’s a typical example. Imagine you have to explain some concept, for example – how the Internet works. Here’s how you’d do it in writing: “The Internet is a global network of computers consisting of servers as well as personal computers.” But here’s how a native English speaker would explain the workings of the Internet in spoken, conversational English: “What it is, is a global network of computers…” Did you notice anything weird about it? The word IS is being repeated twice which may seem incorrect at first, but the fact of the matter is that it’s totally acceptable in spoken English, it’s used as an intensifier and is also known as the double copula. Just read that sentence out loud and pause at the comma – you’ll feel that it’s actually necessary to repeat the word IS! Also, if you look at the way the sentence starts, you’d think it’s a question – I mean, it’s the questions that would typically start with words such as WHAT and WHY, right? There you go! It’s about time you learned that spoken English allows you to use words differently and in this article I’m going to show you really handy ways of starting sentences when you have to provide an explanation of some sorts. And please bear in mind that I’m not telling you to use these spoken English grammar structures just for the sake of it. Try them out for yourself, and you’ll realize that it’s much EASIER to speak this way :!: (more…)

English Fluency Issue Explained

Hello my friend foreigner! Even the most advanced foreign English speakers can be faced with hesitation in speaking English at some stage of their lives. And most surprisingly – there’s seemingly no rational explanation for that! Years long studies of English have perfected your overall English understanding. You can read English fiction and enjoy watching English speaking TV programs. And you’ve probably been living in an English speaking country for a good while already! But you still keep experiencing this weird hesitation when speaking English and it drives you mad! So why the issue is there, and how to deal with it? Is there a solution or it’s something you’ll have to bear for the rest of your life? Luckily for you I have just the right explanation – and it’s quite simple! ;-) First of all – it’s al down to traditional English studies. They focus way too much on reading and writing aspects of the English language. You see – spoken English fluency is developed when you learn how to use English in live conversations naturally, using small talk phrases and expressions, and also naturally occurring English phrases! Traditional English studies, on the other hand, have created and reinforced a very bad habit of trying to speak as if you’re writing text in your head and then reading it out. And you also may have tendency of translating from your native language first because that’s how English is traditionally taught in most schools – using your language as reference medium. All the above mentioned have created this phenomenon of hesitating a lot when speaking English because you just can’t form a natural, fluent speech! The solution? Rebuild your English from the ground up by learning small talk, phrasal verbs, idioms and collocations – in other words, all the stuff that makes up spoken English! Sounds fairly complicated? Well, then check out the English Harmony System and its specifics – you’ll be in a nice surprise it’s got exactly what you need to stop hesitating when speaking English!