“Things are chaotic, and our urge is to make sense of it. And for some, that includes tarot cards…The COVID-19 pandemic breathed new life into the industry of ‘alternative spirituality,’ where customers rely on readings and reiki-charged candles for guidance.” D. Kohli, The Boston Globe, April 1, 2022
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Crystals, cards, and chakra bowls: Psychic businesses boom during the pandemic, By Diti Kohli, The Boston Globe, April 1, 2022
“Businesses sprinkled around Boston are experiencing a spike in interest and revenue that has yet to taper out.
Crowds flock to Open Doors, an eclectic Braintree storefront stuffed with chakra bowls, lion statuettes, and images of Egyptian deities. ‘Open Doors has 18 readers, who saw 25 percent more business over the past 12 months than in prepandemic days, said owner Richard Lanza.’
Products that can be lumped into ‘all things metaphysical’ are up 40 percent, too, as are books on Buddhism, Christianity, and the nature-based pagan religion of Wicca.
‘We’ve all gone through a period of uncertainty financially, health-wise, and career-wise,’ Lanza added. ‘People are reevaluating what their life is about, and they’re looking for answers and insight.’
But Laura Domanico, a psychotherapist at the Whole Living Center in Cambridge, attributed the phenomenon to human nature. People instinctively search for a hand to hold in the dark, akin to the way many fall back on God and religion.
“In times of trouble, we look to things outside ourselves,” said Domanico, who incorporates astrology into her practice. ‘Things are chaotic, and our urge is to make sense of it.’ That need manifests in different ways for different customers.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- For decades, centuries even, skeptics have cast shade on ancient mysticism.
- Many psychics use crystal balls for readings.
- The COVID-19 pandemic breathed new life into the industry of “alternative spirituality,
- Businesses where customers rely on readings and reiki-charged candles for guidance.
- Places in Boston are experiencing a spike in interest and revenue that has yet to taper out.
- Crowds flock to Open Doors, an eclectic Braintree storefront.
- In the store, there are chakra bowls, lion statuettes, and images of Egyptian deities.
- Some people believe in Christianity, and some believe the nature-based pagan religion of Wicca.
- without “normal” life to lean on, many turned to a different method of coping: the supernatural.
- Ms. Domanico incorporates astrology into her practice.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Than/Then there/their are readers: psychics/physics, mediums, and tarot card interpreters. In/Inn popular culture, theyre/they’re seen/see as a window into the future, though Heather Meehan, a medium and psychic at Open Doors, disputes/dispute that notion. “I can only provide a snapshot into you’re/your life,” Meehan said/say while seated at a red table, scattered with tarot cards.
Reading Comprehension: Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “We’ve all gone through a period of uncertainty financially, health-wise, and career-wise…People are reevaluating what their life is about, and they’re looking for answers and insight.”
- “People instinctively search for a hand to hold in the dark, akin to the way many fall back on God and religion.”
- “whenever the virus surges, there is particular interest in the anxiety relief and luck manifestation crystal kits.”
- “I can only provide a snapshot into your life.”
- “Pandemic or no pandemic,…you can’t ignore your soul.”
- “People were dying, dying, dying from COVID and for other reasons… So I was doing a lot of mediumship connecting to loved ones.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Do you believe in psychics? Why or why not?
- Have you ever visited a psychic? Describe your experience.
- During the pandemic, what did stress drive many people to do?
- What are some reasons for the uptick in the interest in psychic information?
- After reading this article has your interest in psychics changed?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.