Robby Kukurs

I’m Robby, and I’m a non-native English speaker. Throughout my entire life I’ve always wanted to speak in English fluently, but because of the way English is taught in schools, I always struggled with my spoken English.

I couldn't learn to speak fluent English for 5 years - read about what I was doing to learn to speak fluently HERE - are YOU in the same situation?

Then, one fine day, after years of constant pursuit of English fluency, I realized the key aspect of spoken English improvement – learning English phrases and word combinations instead of studying grammar rules and trying to construct sentences in your head from scratch!

If you’re interested in improving your English fluency too, please check out the English Harmony System which is a product I created to help all my fellow foreigners to better their spoken English and achieve so much more in professional, social and personal life.

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For those foreign English speakers whose English understanding, writing and grammar is already good but they're struggling with spoken English!

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

FGC Goal #1: Using American Phrases 1 – 12 in a Self-Practice Session

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FYYtI5X1pY Current Goal: Learn 50 American Phrases in 25 Days! Hello my dear friends foreign English speakers! I’ve spent the last 6 days learning new American phraseology taken from English fiction I’m currently reading - GONE series – to be more specific! I’ve been also recording videos all of my spoken English self-practice sessions so that you can see EXACTLY how such spoken English practicing is done in real life! Here are the 12 phrases I’ve learned so far: TELL YOU WHAT IT SPELLS TROUBLE ZONED OUT HAVE YOU A BEEF WITH ME? IT HAS WRONG WRITTEN ALL OVER IT IT WAS A LONG SHOT RINGED WITH CHAIN LINK, TOPPED WITH RAZOR WIRE IN THE RIGHT ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE TO CALL SOMEONE OUT ON SOMETHING GOT A THING FOR SAY WHAT? They’re all quite American (although most of them would still be used worldwide anyway!) , and I’m choosing these phrases depending on how relevant they might be in my personal life. (more…)

What Do Small Children, Pets & The English Language Have In Common?

I’ve been speaking in English for the biggest part of my life, and by now I’ve achieved quite a comfortable level of fluency. I speak in English with my colleagues and customers at work. I speak with lots of other people in English as well – starting from sales-assistants in shops and ending with support staff in various companies. I also speak in English when engaged in routine activities – such as counting, for example. When I’m on my own, I also try to speak in English a lot so that my fluency is always maintained at a high enough level. Whenever I’m encountering a small English speaking child or a pet belonging to an English speaking owner, however, I feel a natural need to speak with them in my native Latvian! Sure enough, I wouldn’t start speaking with a four year old Irish child (I live in Ireland which is an English speaking country) – I’d just do it in English. Yet, for some reason or another it wouldn’t come 100% naturally to me; I’d still have the feeling that I’m supposed to speak with the child in Latvian. Isn’t that weird? I mean – how come that after all these years living in an English speaking country and speaking in English ALL THE TIME, I’m still having moments when I have to suppress the need to speak in my native language? After all – I can even think in English, so why speaking with small children (please bear in mind only children up to the age of 4 or 5 years make me feel that way) and pets would be any different? I’ve been doing some thinking on that, and if you keep reading this article you’ll find out all the theories I’ve come up with! (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “It Came to Light That…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2So82jE7Zkw Another day – another English idiomatic expression! Today we’re going to look at the following English phrase which I’m sure will come in handy for you: IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT… This expression can be used whenever you FIND something OUT. In case you’re wondering why I’m giving you this English idiom in this exact way (Past Tense) instead of keeping the verb in its infinitive form: “To come to light” – it’s because most likely you’ll be using this expression when talking about something that happened in the past! What’s the use of memorizing this exact English sentence “TO come to light” if every time you’re going to have to modify it to suit the context which is most likely going to be in the Past Tense? It’s so much easier to speak if you actually memorize the phrase the EXACT way you’re going to use it! Here’s a couple of example sentences containing the phrase IT CAME TO LIGHT THAT… (more…)

9 Friday Expressions You Can Use… Guess When? On Fridays!

4 Reasons I Wish I Was Born a Native English Speaker

I don’t believe for a second that native English speakers would be superior to foreigners and those who hail from countries where other languages are used as means of communication of first choice. I’m very well aware, however, that people who are born native English speakers have an unfair advantage over non-native English speakers simply because they happen to speak the world’s language which avails them of more opportunities in life! What opportunities? Well, here’s a list of things English fluency has given me - only bear in mind that I’m a foreigner so it goes without saying that any native English speaker would avail of all the same PLUS a whole lot more because they've ALWAYS been fluent English speakers whereas I’ve acquired my fluency later in life. Sure enough, if you’re willing to work exceptionally hard, you can be extremely successful in life as a foreign English speaker – just think about people like Arnie, for example. Work like hell, never stop – and the world is your oyster, isn’t that right? It’s all nice and well, but the reality is a little bit different. We rarely hear about those non-native English speakers who are working really hard and still don’t achieve their ambitions just because they happen to come from a foreign background – it’s only the success stories that everyone hears about… So, here’s 4 reasons as to why I wish I was born a native English speaker, and if you feel that I’ve left something out – just post it in the comments section below! (more…)

“Can’t Improve English Because I Live in Non-English Speaking Country…” is Often Just an EXCUSE!

English Idiomatic Expression: “To Go the Extra Mile”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdiXDxmdFGg Hello boys and girls! ;-) I haven’t posted any English idiomatic expression videos lately, so I figured why not record one and put it up on YouTube and on my blog so that you can learn something new! Today’s phrase is the following: TO GO THE EXTRA MILE and if you want to find out how it’s to be used in real life English conversations, please watch the video above. In this video I’m providing 3 examples of using this particular idiomatic expression, but obviously there’s a whole lot more ways of using it when communicating with other English speakers. The expression TO GO THE EXTRA MILE can be used whenever you want to describe someone making extra effort – if you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Walking another mile when you’ve already walked the entire way quite obviously involves some extra work, and apparently at some stage native English speakers started using this phrase to describe making extra effort in general. So, watch this video, do some spoken English practice with this expression in order to cement it into your brain, and if you’ve any questions in relation to this phrase – let me know in the comments section below! Cheers, Robby

English Becomes Worse When Speaking With Another Foreigner? Is It REALLY Possible?!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOicavsUr5Q A couple of days ago I got a comment from one of my YouTube followers asking for advice on how to deal with a situation when English fluency deteriorates in the presence of another foreign English speaker whose English isn’t as fluent as yours. I provided a helpful comment and I also touched upon the phenomenon of deteriorating English fluency when another non-native English speaker joins a conversation between a foreigner and a native English speaker. After that I got a response to my comment reiterating the fact that it’s very odd such situations occur at all – considering that speaking with the native English speaker doesn’t present any difficulties whatsoever; it’s only when you have to address the other foreigner whose English isn’t as developed as yours that you start experiencing problems with speaking in English clearly. Long story short, I recorded this video where I’m looking at this phenomenon in the very depth, so if you’ve been experiencing similar issues during your English conversations, you definitely may want to watch this video to understand the very nature of this problem and also find out how to deal with this inability to speak with somebody whose English is worse than yours :!: (more…)

Why Don’t I Learn Other Languages By Applying English Harmony Principles?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lehne_NkgYQ VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BELOW: Hi guys, and welcome back to the English Harmony video blog! In today’s video, I’m going to address a question asked by one of my YouTube commentators whose name is Shamil. Hi, Shamil! How are you getting on? Thanks for asking the question, it’s a very valid one. Let me read it out first. “Robby, are you currently learning any new language? It’s just that you’ve figured out how to efficiently learn English and reach fluency in English so why limit yourself with English only? Why not apply all of your experience on, for example, French? Surely you can apply the same way of learning techniques and become fluent in French or in any other language in no time. Maybe we’ll see you in the future on your new channel in French! Regards, Shamil”. Thanks for the question. It’s a very valid one. Indeed, I’ve figured out that I can actually learn and improve my English by using all these colocations and phrases and a lot of self-practice by repeating the phrases and memorizing them all over again, using in my self-practice sessions then using them in real life conversations with people. So, all of these methods and techniques together coupled with fluency management techniques whereby I monitor my fluency all the time and whenever I feel that my fluency goes down a bit, I apply all these methods, right, and there’s a number of them. The simplest one is to slow your speech down, right. There’s more techniques. If you feel that you’re really stuck, you actually try and speak much faster as some sort of a reverse psychology. Basically, you’re trying to make as many mistakes as you actually can and sometimes, it actually helps you to get through the plateau, so to speak. You actually start speaking much better for some reason or another, and then there’s a technique whereby you just try to empty your mind and basically get rid of all those negative thoughts and you just basically speak about whatever comes into your mind. You just don’t care whether what you say might be a bit erroneous, maybe there’s a few mistakes in it, whatever. You just don’t care about that, you just lose yourself basically and distance yourself from other people’s opinions, emotions, what they might think, whatever. I’ve discussed all of these strategies in great depth on my blog throughout the years, so obviously… (more…)

Great Topic for Spoken English Self-Practice: Daily Events & Planning Next Day!

Isn’t It Weird That I Can Write In English Better Than Speak?

Short answer – “No, it’s not weird at all! It’s actually completely normal for any English speaker – be it native or foreign – to be able to write in English better than speak!” However, having said this, the reverse isn’t always true and I’m not claiming that all English speakers are better writers than speakers. It’s just that it’s NOT WEIRD if you happen to be a better writer than a speaker. Now, would you like to get a bit more elaborate answer to this question? Well, it’s going to take me more than just a paragraph or two to say all I have to say in this regard, so I’d better settle down in front of my laptop with a mug of coffee because writing this article is going to take me a little while. There are many aspects to the curious problem of differences between writing and speaking in English and who else would be more qualified to answer the above question than me? After all, I live in an English speaking country and I spend the biggest part of my day at work communicating with native English speakers; most of my evenings are spent writing articles for my blog and answering e-mails. Years spent on analyzing English fluency related issues have left me with a very good understanding of how one’s writing skills influence one’s ability to speak and vice versa, so let my long answer begin! So, is it weird that you can write in English better than speak? NO, and the reason number one is… (more…)

English Idiomatic Expression: “Over the years”

Tip for YearOfEnglish.com Subscribers: Learn English Song Lyrics!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVszoY1C6m0 Let’s face it my friends: Songs performed in English are topping the charts all over the globe, and even if you’re a fan of music performed in your native language, you surely listen to popular songs or some classic hits every now and then, don’t you? If you’re anything like the average foreigner out there, I guess I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that you normally don’t pay attention to English song lyrics; you just allow the music wash over your ears and touch you emotionally rather than with the actual meaning of words. To tell you the truth, my friends, I don’t even pay conscious attention to words when I listen to songs performed by my fellow country-men (or women for that matter!), and sometimes it’s next to impossible to decipher those lyrics regardless of the language! :grin: If you do learn lyrics of your most beloved English songs, however, you will most definitely avail of all the following: (more…)

Funny English Phrases #1 – Buying a Pair of Jeans

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ELDaqPlEW8 Hi my friends foreign English speakers! You must have noticed I’m not posting here on my blog as often as I used to, but you can rest assured that I’m not neglecting this project! I’m simply too busy editing new English Harmony lessons and working with my partner Will who creates all content for the lessons. So, while I’m working on the major English Harmony System’s update, I decided to post weekly short videos stuffed with useful everyday English phrases you can use in different situations – when shopping, visiting your doctor or even facing an interviewer in a job interview. Today’s video is dedicated to shopping. Watch it, and who knows - maybe some of those phrases will come handy the next time you’re out shopping for new clothes! Robby ;-)

Check Out the Most Popular Articles on This Blog!

One day I decided to check the statistics of my website and see which blog posts you’ve been reading the most. I selected the top 10 articles and I guess it provides a fair representation of what my average blog visitor is interested in, so you may want to check out the top 10 of English Harmony blog posts of all times! If you visit this blog frequently, you’ve probably read a good few of them, but I’m sure you’ll find at least a couple of links you haven’t encountered before and they might just provide you with some English fluency related info you’ve been looking for to no avail. So, let the countdown begin! (more…)

30-Day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 3- Traffic

Why It’s So HARD to Realize You Have to Speak in Order to Speak

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7TJNdjlCxw

30-day Vocabulary Acquisition Course- Day 20- Fair-weather Friend

Never Ignore English Movies If You Want to Be Fluent!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggHds15I-HQ I received a comment on one of my YouTube videos a couple of days ago, here’s the full text of it: Thanks a million Robby for the time and efforts you dedicate to help us. My biggest lifetime mistake was that I always underestimated the importance of watching movies in achieving the desirable command of English; because I used to think that it's not very SEXY for well-educated persons to waste their time on movies! What happened then? Now, I am a doctoral student who writes impressive formal law review articles but he sucks at speaking! This is really a shame: when I am invited to give a presentation as if I am invited to be hanged... Once, when I was doing my LLM in Sweden, our course coordinator called me into her office and told me this article cannot be yours! You can imagine how that could be disappointing! So, heed my advice everyone and NEVER IGNORE MOVIES...use it or lose it! Now, first of all, I can totally relate to the fact that this person has developed their WRITTEN English to a very high degree while at the same time neglecting the SPOKEN language. (more…)

English Fluency Problem

Let’s first talk about this English fluency problem so that you can analyze it a little bit and understand its nature. Let’s say, you wake up in the morning and while doing something you just have an odd thought in English in your mind. And…you realize that you just can’t express yourself in English language as you’d normally do! You try to say something in English to yourself and you feel that you can’t stick the thoughts together – your mind is full of different words and images floating and messing… Another example. You go to work and greet the first person you meet. “How are you! I’m fine, what was the weekend like?” – And then you suddenly feel that you have to force yourself to get even these simple things right! And when you start chatting to your workmate at your desk, you feel that you can’t speak normally as you could before, although only yesterday you could speak fluently as a native speaker! The usual mistakes you make when experiencing the speech problem are the following:  Not being able to find the right words  Mispronouncing words  Not being able to say the thought clearly! You start a sentence, and then the very thread of the thought vanishes, and something like a blackout takes place in your head. And then you get really anxious and nervous and it affects your whole day – your mood drops below zero, the self-esteem is gone, the confidence… well, it’s a disaster! I don’t exaggerate, I know the feeling all too well and I guess, so do you. The most baffling thing in this all is that no matter how often you speak, no matter how long you’ve been living among English speaking folks, the things don’t change! It keeps on repeating constantly and with no obvious reason at all! :cry: I remember myself being a job-seeker at one stage and I attended many job interviews. One day I could speak perfectly creating a really good impression about myself. The next day going to a different place I’d experience the issue described above – and, of course, I’d feel really low because the interviewer most likely thought – well, this guy can’t get the English right in the first place, what job is he dreaming about then? And I know you have gone through a number of really embarrassing situations similar to previously described and you’d be more than happy to deal with the issue once and for all, wouldn’t you? So first let’s list all the characteristics of this English fluency issue so that we can clearly see what we are trying to get resolved here! Robby P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

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: “In question”

7 English Words & Phrases I Thought Were Wrong (But Then It Turned Out I WAS WRONG)!

Back in the day when I was a perfectionist regarding the English language, I thought that English grammar rules are set in stone and I used to question and analyze every new English word or expression I came across. It’s no wonder therefore that I thought idiomatic expressions such as “Long time no see! ” were grammatically incorrect while in reality nothing could be further from the truth! You see – some things we say in English aren’t subject to any rules, we JUST SAY THEM and if you start questioning them, you can only make matters worse by confusing yourself to a degree you can’t even speak fluently. Being the perfectionist that I was, I would always take the academic approach and try and put some sort of a structure on everything I would read or hear in English; if something didn’t make sense to me, I would label it as being WRONG. Needless to say, my ability to speak was next to none back then for the simple reason that  my textbook-based English was only good for doing grammar tests and constructing grammatically correct sentences on a piece of paper. Whenever I tried to speak with real people in real life, I would apply the same analysis as when writing and doing grammar tests, but the simple truth is that you just can’t speak fluently when you’re constantly questioning yourself and your conversation partner. On top of that, I was fairly stubborn as well, and I just wouldn’t take other people’s advice on board because I was so self-absorbed that I thought I knew everything best! :grin: (more…)

Funny English Phrases: Discussing Relationships

What’s Wrong With Traditional English Studies?

We all started with English differently. Others started with self studying because of pure interest, like me. For some it was a necessity after moving to another country. However, as my website is  dedicated to people having difficulties with maintaining a consistent level of spoken English, it is most likely that your journey into the world of English started with the written word. And actually this is where the biggest problems are hidden! :!: When we learned the language by writing words and memorizing them, we needed to write down the meaning in our native tongue. And this means having to translate the word from our native language to English, which is quite a natural thing, isn’t it? It is indeed. Only if it wasn’t stressed too much! Learning English at school means learning written English. Let’s be honest – how much of all the time spent in the English class we were taught to speak the language? I’m afraid – not too much. Teachers have to devote attention to all the students, have to explain grammar rules, new words and have to tell what new beautiful learning methods have come out recently…and as a result our English language develops as almost pure written language – and we can write well, don’t we? We form nice, correct sentences and we have all the time in the world to think of what words to use, in what order and what grammar rules apply in the particular case. And when it comes to the speaking part in the exam, or class practice we speak slowly and create nice English sentences in our head! OK, not all of the students are the same but I’m addressing us folks, the ones that share this issue of wave-like occurring lack of English speaking skills. So – in other words – no one teaches us to really SPEAK English! :shock: No one even mentions about how the very language is formed in our brain - native English speakers use blocks of words as they speak rather than linking seperate words together! Now try to analyze the processes in your head when you speak English. If your speech is unhindered at this moment and you can speak fluently – everything is fine. The words just flow out of your mouth just as the thoughts appear in you mind and you even don’t notice the very existence of thoughts. You just speak. Wonderful! If we always could perform like this… But now let’s see what’s happening in our head when the English speech issue takes place. You try to speak but the words get mixed up, the grammar is a mess, and the thoughts don’t flow naturally. Well – this is your mind gone into the translation mode! Sometimes you have some odd English words trying to push themselves into the wrong places, sometimes it’s your own language – you speak English, but some pieces of your native tongue’s thoughts just wouldn’t leave you. In the worst case scenario your mind switches to a mode of preparing the speech even before you speak it out! This one is really bad because it’s the hardest to fight with. Once I had this kind of an issue and couldn’t get rid of it for days – no matter how I tried to speak I had the second mind in my head working on its own and making the sentences up a moment before I spoke the very words. It feels as if you have two minds indeed. Imagine how the head feels like to work at a double of its capacity! Some of these symptoms have much in common; some are unique – like preparing the speech before the actual conversation. Anyway, the actual cause is the same - this is all because we’ve been taught to think in our language and even now when you can speak fluent English the reflex just wouldn't give up! To put is simply – the English language we use is mostly acquired by studies in the classroom, or by writing, memorizing, reading…in other words – doing everything but learning the language the natural way – like children do, for example. When I moved to an English speaking country my daughters were four. They started attending the school and soon enough they had picked up the basics of the colloquial English. Did they keep a dictionary, or jotted down grammar rules to memorize? No – all they did was – they chatted with the teacher and the classmates and the English language settled itself in their brain as a separate language – not as a translation version of their native language! :idea: I know this feeling very well – I speak another foreign language - Russian. I learnt it while being a little child and it has settled in my brain naturally. And the most funny thing – although my Russian vocabulary is actually smaller than the English one, I never experience a similar issue while speaking Russian. Even despite the fact that I haven’t actively spoken in this language for years. Even when I struggle for a word there are never some stupid thoughts nor words in Russian messing in my head – and as a result – I don’t experience this issue. But don’t despair – we’ll sort everything out and take the control of the language – just keep on reading and soon you’ll see what this is all about! ;-) Another really worrying indication of wrong English studies manifests itself the following way. Quite often I would imagine the word as it is written at the moment of speech. And why? I guess it’s because I used to keep a dictionary and repeat the words every now and then and memorize them as they stand in it. And what happens now is – instead of associating the word with abstract thought my mind just looks it up from my dictionary notebook. In other words – you can’t just speak out that word straight away; you have to spend a split moment to translate its meaning from your native language. :evil: This is less likely going to happen when the vocabulary is built not memorizing separate words but in real conversations – the very abstract meaning settles in your brain and there’s no need for your mind to look for something in the entries of your virtual vocabulary. But this all is especially visible at school English lessons – we all tend to think that writing down words and mechanically memorizing them will make our language better and more fluent. So wrong, it is all so wrong! :!: A language consists of thoughts, of phrases. Learning words and sticking them together is not going to make your English fluent! It’s all about the translation – if you try to use separate words as links to build the chain – sentence – you will use your native tongue in your mind. But you’ve got to think the language to speak it! OK – now we’re grown ups, we can speak very well and all the previously mentioned stuff shouldn’t present any problems…Still sometimes it does! So, how to fight this reflex and move permanently into a state of confident English? Is this issue purely based on anxiety and can you by calming down resolve it? My experience has taught me quite a different thing. I would sometimes experience incredible drops in the ability to communicate without the slightest touch of worrying or anxiety whatsoever! Well, I think you now got the main point – we have to eradicate the subconscious habit of translating from our native tongue into English! :idea: Robby P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

Why Reading an English Newspaper is 100 Times Better than Studying a Grammar Workbook

Let’s imagine you have to pick only one English learning and improving material to take with you to a remote island. What would it be? An English grammar book? A fiction book in English? An English workbook? Never mind them all! What you need is a bunch of newspapers and your English will come along nicely! ;-) The reason why I value newspapers so highly – especially tabloids - is because their purpose is to provide normal, everyday people with easy-to-digest news and English used in them is very close to the spoken language heard on the street, at work, on TV and radio. You can read tabloids very easily and in the process you’ll acquire the same means of expression used in interpersonal communication. While some academics might hold to a view that spoken English has low standards because of abundance of phrasal verbs and informal expressions, my experience tells me tabloid language will make your communication with other English speakers so much easier. After all, what kind of conversations are you involved on a regular basis – normal, everyday chatting or highly intellectual, academically inspired discussions? I think that without a shadow of a doubt the former kind of communication is by far more necessary for the average foreign English speaker, so let’s look at the benefits of reading English newspapers and tabloids in a bigger detail. Also, you’ll find out how just by scanning tabloid headlines you can stay up-to-date with current affairs and offer your opinion on different topics when having a chat with your friends at a launch table! (more…)