A Simple, Powerful Prayer in Challenging Times

In this beautiful video, Moojibaba addresses the concerns and fears that many are facing during the current global crisis. Mooji shows us a powerful exercise and prayer which is tremendous support during such trying times — a ‘thank you’ prayer. “I’m going to show you right now a very simple practice to help you to feel calm and integrated again. Of all the mantras, of all the wonderful things you can think about, or say, or feel, saying, Thank you is one of the most effective and great mantras or prayers you can make.”

There are many useful words in his talk, words that we frequently use in our conversations.

Listen carefully and try to write down what you hear. It’s a good listening exercise. He speaks very clearly. And you can always turn on subtitles if you need.

Many of the adjectives he uses (calm, sad, angry, frustrated, lonely, depressed) we have learned already. Do you hear a different one? Which one?

What does he say that means the same as touched, moved?

And what about the nouns which name feelings, like peace, gratitude, depression? Make a list of them. Look them up in a dictionary.

“We hope you will join us in praying for the health and wellbeing of all who have been or will be affected by the virus, wherever they are in the world. May its growth and impact diminish quickly; may the sick recover to newfound strength; may we all use this challenging time to continue growing in ourselves, to discover the power and grace of the eternal light within us.”

~ Moojibaba

Election hacking

The 2020 presidential elections in the US, in which President Donald Trump faces the Democrat candidate Joe Biden, are causing a lot of controversy. In the US many votes are cast digitally and there were plans to enlist the help of hackers to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks on election day.

Here is a lesson that teaches us the vocabulary to discuss this initiative. 

In 2000 the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush ended in recounts and disputes over missing votes. George Bush became the first modern president to win the election despite gaining fewer popular votes than his opponent. How many fewer votes than Gore did Bush win by in the 2000 American presidential election? 

a) half a million votes

b) a million votes 

c) two million votes

Listen to the programme to find out the answer. 


someone who works willingly without being paid, because they want to 

someone who breaks into computer systems without permission in order to find information or do something illegal 

qualified to do something by having the necessary requirements 

attracting a lot of attention and interest from the public, newspapers and the media 

(have) the keys to the castle
(idiom) information or knowledge which gives the possessor access to power 

measures that are taken to protect organisations and their computer information against crimes and attacks carried out through the internet


Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Rob. 

And I’m Sam.

When it comes to US presidential elections, some are more dramatic than others. 

But few elections have been as controversial as this November’s contest between current President Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. 

In America, where many votes are cast digitally, there is a risk of cyber-attacks on election day and with so much depending on the result, US election officials are worried. 

In this programme we’ll be hearing about plans to prevent election cyber-attacks which involve election officials working with a very unusual group of people: volunteer hackers. Volunteers are people who work willingly, without being paid… 

… and hackers are people who break into computer systems without permission in order to find information or do something illegal. 

But cyber-attacks from hackers are not the only threat to fair and democratic elections. 

In 2000 the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush ended in recounts and disputes over missing votes. George Bush became the first modern president to win the election despite gaining fewer popular votes than his opponent – but how many fewer? That’s our quiz question – how many fewer votes did Bush win than Gore in the 2000 American presidential election? Was it:
a) half a million votes?,
b) a million votes?,  or
c) two million votes?

I’ll say b) a million votes. 

OK, we’ll find out later. Now, the project Sam mentioned, where official administrators team up with expert volunteers to keep the election secure, is called The Election Cyber Surge

BBC World Service programme Digital Planet met up with project organiser Maya Worman to discuss the importance of keeping the election free from interference.

Maya Worman
Any attempt to manipulate or interfere with election infrastructures – the machines or the information sets that determine who is eligible to vote and where – undermines the right to vote. And it puts burdens on voters and it impacts public confidence; and high-profile elections, especially like the one coming up, heighten the types of risks that we’re talking about. 

You can only vote in an election if you are eligible – qualified by having the necessary requirements, for example being a US citizen who’s aged 18 or over. 

It’s up to each of the eight thousand local jurisdictions around the United States to keep their area free from cyber-attacks and misinformation – risks which have increased because the coming election is so high-profile – attracting a lot of attention and interest from newspapers and the public.

The Cyber Surge project to put expert volunteers in touch with local officials aims to prevent these risks. It covers everything from making sure administrators are using the latest anti-virus software to more serious threats from troublemakers. 

Now that’s got me thinking actually, Rob. Suppose I’m a troublemaker who wants to influence the election result – so I sign up as a volunteer and gain access to all kinds of information. How do we know that the volunteers who sign up are trustworthy? 

That’s a good question, Sam, and one that BBC World Service programme, Digital Planet, put to Maya Worman. 

Maya Worman
The expectation is not that the volunteer will have the keys to the castle by any means, more that they will have an open dialogue with an election administrator who wants to know more to explore cybersecurity enhancements in general or specifically. 

Volunteers are carefully selected according to their experience and skills in cybersecurity – measures that help organisations and countries keep their computer information safe against crimes and attacks carried out through the internet. 

Volunteers share their expert advice by talking with election officials. They won’t be given access to sensitive information so they won’t have the keys to the castle – an idiom meaning to possess information or knowledge which gives the possessor access to power

All of which means that the 2020 election result will, hopefully, be accepted by everyone. 

Unlike the situation twenty years ago. 

Ah, you mean our quiz question, Rob, about the 2000 US presidential election which George W. Bush won despite securing fewer votes than his opponent. 

I asked you how many fewer votes Bush won than Al Gore that year. 

And I said b) a million votes. 

But in fact, it was even closer – just a) half a million votes in Florida. 

In this programme we’ve been looking ahead to the US presidential elections and its cybersecurity – measures taken to protect countries and their computer information against online crimes and attacks

The Cyber Surge project aims to put officials in touch with volunteers – people who work for free, who also happen to be expert hackers – people who break into computer systems without permission

But the idea isn’t to commit election crime – rather to prevent it by making sure only those who are eligible – or qualified – to vote, do so. 

The project was set up because the November 2020 election has become so high-profile – attracting a lot of attention and interest from the public and the media

And of course the volunteers themselves are carefully chosen to be impartial experts who give advice without holding the keys to the castle – an idiom about possessing information which gives access to power

What’s certain is that the world will be watching this election, so if you’re eligible, remember to vote. 

And remember to join us again soon. Bye for now! 

Bye bye! 

What do you think? Do you feel safe casting your vote digitally?  Is the public accepting election hacking as a new normal? And would election hacking be the end of democracy as we know it?


2020 US Presidential Election

The 2020 United States presidential election was held on November 3, 2020. Voters selected presidential electors who, in turn, will vote on December 14, 2020, to either elect a new president and vice president or reelect Donald Trump and Mike Pence, respectively.

Let’s start by learning some useful vocabulary and phrases that you need to know to be able to talk about elections. Get your notebook, listen carefully, and write down the new words. Firstly, an introductory lesson.

Next, another lesson that teaches a few more words and a useful expression.

Here are the words and phrases from the lesson.

1) apolitical – not connected to a political party

2) two-party-system – when two parties dominate politics

3) independent – a voter who is not registered with a political party

4) moderate – someone who does not have extreme views

5) primary – when voters chose who will be the candidate for that party

6) cast (one’s) ballot – to vote

7) popular vote – the total number of votes a candidate receives

8) Electoral College – a group of people, electors, who cast votes for the election of president

9) winner-take-all – all the votes from one state will go to the candidate who wins

10) partisan – strongly supporting a person or party without considering the matter carefully

11) amend – to change or alter something

12) red state – state that strongly supports Republicans

13) blue state – state that strongly supports Democrats

14) purple state – state with a mix of Democrat and Republican support

15) swing state – state whose votes could go to either the Democrats or Republicans

16) battleground state – means the same as swing state

17) lean left – state that is more likely to vote for the Democrats

18) lean right – state that is more likely to vote for the Republicans

19) fundraise – to collect money for a particular purpose

20) campaign – an organized political group trying to achieve a particular aim

21) PAC / Super PAC – an organization that raises money privately to influence elections

22) civic duty – the responsibilities of citizens of a country

23) civil discourse – conversations concerning ordinary citizens

24) head to the polls – to go vote at a polling location

25) absentee ballot – when someone requests a ballot from election officials and votes by mail

26) mail-in-voting – when election ballots are sent to all registered voters in the state

27) rigged – to dishonestly arrange something to achieve a desired outcome

28) voter suppression – when people are not allowed to vote or discouraged from voting

29) concede – to admit, often unwillingly, that something is true

30) contest an election – when the validity of the results is challenged by the losing candidate

Okay! Now we have the essential vocabulary to join in a discussion about the US election, which is an international event and always draws intense worldwide interest.

Trump won the 2016 election even though Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes. Watch this video to understand how the US election process works and try to answer the questions below.


1. How is the next US president elected in the presidential election?
a: by popular vote
b. by the electoral college
c. by each state

2. How many electoral votes do you need to become president?
a. 270 or more
b. none
c. all 538

3. How many times in the last five US elections has the president won despite getting fewer overall popular votes?
a. once
b. twice
c. five times

4. What does it mean ‘to rubber stamp’ the presidential candidate in the US presidential election?
a. to put a stamp on your postal vote envelope
b. to change your mind about who to vote for
c. to officially endorse the presidential candidate by voting for them without questioning your decision


1.b; 2.a; 3.b; 4.c

What do you think about this system? How would you compare it to our Brazilian system?

What’s your idea of a happy life?

I always suggest my students that they go to TED, browse the library of talks, pick the one they like and listen to it, then work on the new vocabulary, and notice how words are combined.

So a student picked this moving and inspirational talk. Born with a rare genetic disorder called progeria, Sam Berns knew he’d be facing more obstacles in life than most. But this didn’t stop him from taking charge of his own happiness. Berns describes the three principles of the personal philosophy that allowed him to do so.

Before you watch it – watch and print the transcript here -, answer this question:

What is your idea of a happy life?

Can you list the three aspects to his philosophy? Do you agree with them?

Next, let’s look at some of the language we have been talking about in class, which we find in his talk.

“I’m Sam, and I just turned 17″.

turn verb (age/time) to become a particular age, or to reach a particular time

“So my family and I worked with an engineer to design a snare drum harness that would be lighter, and easier for me to carry”.

It is considered polite to mention oneself last in double subjects or objects.

Why don’t you and I go away for the weekend?

“I just want to give you some more information about Progeria”.

number or quantifier + more + noun

“When I can’t do something like run a long distance, or go on an intense roller coaster, I know what I’m missing out on“.

miss out phrasal verb
1 to not have the chance to do something that you enjoy and that would be good for you:
Some children miss out because their parents can’t afford to pay for school trips.
miss out on
Prepare food in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on the fun!

But instead, I choose to focus on the activities that I can do through things that I’m passionate about, like scouting, or music, or comic books, or any of my favorite Boston sports teams”.

verbs + prepositions

Now we’re kind of goofy, a lot of us are band geeks, but we really enjoy each other’s company, and we help each other out when we need to”.

kind + of = kinda e sort + of = sortaEssas palavras são usadas no geral para expressar a ideia de “um pouco” ou “meio”.

help out phrasal verb
to help someone because they are busy or have problems:
Do you need anyone to help out in the shop?

So the bottom line here, is that I hope you appreciate and love your family, love your friends, for you guys, love you Bro’s and acknowledge your mentors, and your community, because they are a very real aspect of everyday life, they can make a truly significant, positive impact.” 

the bottom line used to tell someone what the most important part of a situation is, or what the most important thing to consider is:
In radio you have to keep the listener listening. That’s the bottom line.

It could be anything from looking forward to the next comic book to come out, or going on a large family vacation, or hanging out with my friends, to going to the next High School football game”.

come out phrasal verb
if a book, record etc comes out, it becomes publicly available:
When is the new edition coming out?

hang out phrasal verb
informal to spend a lot of time in a particular place or with particular people
hang out with
I don’t really know who she hangs out with.
Where do the children hang out?

This is a friend of mine, who I look up to, Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, and this is us at TEDMED last year, chatting away“.

look up to somebody phrasal verb
to admire or respect someone:
I’ve always looked up to Bill for his courage and determination.

chat also chat away to talk in a friendly informal way, especially about things that are not important:
John and I sat up until the early hours chatting.

About four years ago, HBO began to film a documentary about my family and me called ‘Life According to Sam'”.

When the word in question is the object of a preposition and not the subject of a sentence or phrase, we should use the object pronoun.

Oh, wait, hang on a second, one more piece of advice” –- (Laughter)

hang on
used to ask or tell someone to wait [= hold on]:
Hang on! I’ll be back in a minute.

So, all in all, I don’t waste energy feeling bad for myself“. 

all in all

used for showing that you are considering every aspect of something

All in all, getting insufficient sleep is bad news.

All in all, I think it has been a successful conference.

We both thought that all in all it might not be a bad idea.

feel bad
to feel ashamed or sorry about something
feel bad about (doing) something
I felt bad about not being able to come last night.
feel bad for
I feel bad for Ann – she studied so hard for that test and she still didn’t pass.

Sam Berns died in 2014. He was a musician, Eagle Scout and junior at Foxboro High School in Massachusetts. Diagnosed at the age of two with a rare rapid-aging disease called Progeria, he spent much of his life raising awareness about the condition, eventually doing so on a national stage in the HBO documentary, “Life According to Sam.”


So now, after having listened to this talk, has your idea of a happy life changed?

A hero lies in you

How many things do you do every day? How many people do you provide for? How hard do you work to earn a living? What are your responsibilities? Are you or someone you love having to cope with a severe disease?

We tend to look up to (to admire or respect) some people, our heroes, as examples and role models. But think carefully. When you spend some time really listening to someone, when you have the money to pay all your bills, when you care for a sick person daily, you are a hero. That’s when a hero lies inside of you.

Look at the lyrics below. Look up the words you don’t know, and notice how they combine. Then play the game. Have fun!


There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

It’s a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And that emptiness you felt
Will disappear

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
Mmm, that a hero lies in you

Lord knows, dreams are hard to follow
But don’t let anyone tear them away
Just hold on, there will be tomorrow
In time, you’ll find the way

And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside, and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you

That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you