Covid-19 vaccine side effects

It’s a good idea, when you travel abroad, to know how to describe what you are feeling, in case you need to go to an emergency medical service.

So, we started with the most common health problems, ways to ask about someone’s health, and typical responses.

Next we looked at simple conversations between doctor and patient, and we worked on a dialogue in which a patient visits his doctor because he has many of the classic Covid-19 symptoms.

Then, working with a student, she told me that she had a hard time with the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Forty-eight hours after she took it, she had a rash / she broke out in a rash on her neck and forehead. She didn’t have a fever, but her blood pressure went down / dropped / decreased. Then, she called the doctor, and the doctor prescribed her an anti-allergic medication/drug. She took the medication and rested. ‘It was weird,’ she said.

Here is a piece of news which is a good listening and reading practice, as it brings the vocabulary related to this problem.

I also had / got / experienced side effects / suffered from side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine. I had / experienced fatigue, a fever, a headache and, body aches.

In case you need to go to an emergency service, one of the questions they may ask you is: Are you allergic to any medicine/medication?

You should respond:

Yes, I’m allergic to…

No, not that I’m aware of / not that I know of.


What about you? Did you have / get / experience side effects or suffered from side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine? What did you have?

Nota: O intuito desta lição, é oferecer soluções lexicais, para caso necessite, você possa comunicar com segurança e tranquilidade, seus sintomas. Ao que tudo indica, o tema não deverá, tão cedo, desaparecer da nossa realidade.

9/11 and heroes

We have recently learned how to use the words birthday and anniversary. This lesson shows the noun anniversary used to talk about the 20th anniversary of the September 11 tragedy. Note that the ordinal number indicating the number of years precedes the word anniversary.

The attack remains one of the most traumatic events of the century, not only for Americans but also for the world.

Around the US, every year, people pause to remember those who lost their lives on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, vowing to “never forget.”

“9/11” is shorthand for the date, September 11, 2001. On that date, four airplanes were hijacked or taken over by 19 terrorists, part of the terrorist group called “al-Qaeda,” and used as giant, guided missiles to crash into landmark buildings in New York and Washington. Two planes struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. As people rushed out of the towers, many rushed in to help, including firefighters and police officers, who saved thousands of lives.

Almost 3,000 people died, and thousands were injured or later developed illnesses connected to the attacks, including firefighters who had worked in toxic debris. Citizens of 77 different countries were among the casualties.

The third plane destroyed the western face of the Pentagon – the giant headquarters of the US military just outside the nation’s capital, Washington DC.

And the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back. There is speculation that the hijackers had meant to attack the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

  • All 246 passengers and crew aboard the four planes were killed
  • At the Twin Towers, 2,606 people died – then or later of injuries
  • At the Pentagon, 125 people were killed

Around 17,000 people were in the buildings when they were hit by the planes. Most of them left safely. As they rushed out, firemen, police officers, and other volunteers rushed in to help those still trapped. We call these heroes “first responders”. The buildings were very damaged, though, and before the first responders could help everyone, they collapsed.

On the one hand, the world witnessed the searing destructiveness of naked hate that day; on the other hand saw many performing incredible acts of heroism, sympathy, and gratitude.

People came from all over the world to help. Some came to help the injured. Some came to help clean up the site. Others brought food and support messages for the workers. Many people worked around the clock (all day and all night without stopping) to clear the rubble and the debris, and eight months later, the last of the steel was removed.

To help us remember, a permanent 9/11 Memorial and a Museum were opened at the site of the original World Trade Center on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Together, they remind us what happened that day and help us remember all the people who lost their lives. They also let us remember the importance of helping each other and making our community and world a better place.


  • What does the word “hero” mean to you? Do you think of someone with superhuman strength or someone you know?

  • What makes a hero?

  • How can we show support and gratitude to those who act heroically or are absolutely and genuinely committed to the well-being of our community, country, or the world? 

Rare snowfall

cold front reached southern Brazil from the 26th, Monday, causing rainIn its rear, a mass of cold air of polar origin advanced into the country.

Temperatures fell/dropped to below zero, with rare snowfall overnight in some places – as the polar air mass advanced toward the center-south. Ice and snow accumulated on the streets of cities where the wintry phenomenon was rarely seen. 

Many cities in the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, the two southernmost states, registered either snow or freezing rain late Wednesday. The unusually extreme weather in the country’s south kept the thermometers between 0 and 5° C in the early hours of Wednesday and during Thursday. Some places still had below-freezing (sub-zero) temperatures.

The relative humidity, the gusts of wind, the frost, and, consequently, the wind chill factor made us feel the cold even more intense.

Cars, streets, and highways were blanketed in ice while people took the opportunity to take pictures and play in the snowbuilding/making snowmen.

Snow is uncommon in Brazil, even in its southern region during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter. Brazil’s last blizzard (a severe snowstorm) was in 1957 when 1.3 meters of snow was recorded in a city in Santa Catarina state.

So, what can we do about it? Here are some tips.

Note: It’s the first time I decide to raise the issue of “ice safety.” Well,I guess change is everywhere. 😉

Don’t miss out on the previous lessons on the weather!

Second round of municipal elections

Many cities in Brazil are holding the second round of municipal elections for mayor and vice-mayor, this Sunday. Councilors were already elected in the first round.

We have already learned vocabulary and phrases to talk about the United States presidential election. Now, let’s talk about our municipal elections.

  • Did you vote in the first round?
  • Are you going to vote in the second round?
  • Which party  are you voting for?*
  • Who are you going to vote for?*
  • Who got the most votes?

Useful Vocabulary  

campaign (n) in an election a campaign is a political and organized effort which seeks to win the vote of the electorate. Often called a ‘political campaign’ or an ‘election campaign.’

campaign (v) the things a candidate does to be elected (kissing babies, shaking hands, giving speeches, etc)

candidate (n) the person who is running in an election

debate (n) a formal discussion of the merits of something

debate (v) to argue for and against something

elect (v) the act of voting to select the winner of a political office

election (n) the formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office

electorate (n) the people  who are eligible to vote in an election

government (n) the political  body with the power to make and/or enforce laws for a country

local election (n) city or town elections

opposition (n) the major political party opposed to the party in office and prepared to replace it if elected

party (n) an organization formed to gain political power

political (adj) related to politics

politician (n) a person active in  politics

politics (n) the process by which governments make decisions

run (v) to campaign  to stand for a political position

*Be careful about asking this.  For many people, voting is a personal matter.

See more at

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?