Welcome

Introduction

We launched this blog in March 2012. Since then, we’ve given a large number of conference presentations and seminars in different countries aiming to explain our concept of “Demand High” teaching. We’ve met lots of people with lots of opinions and this has really helped us become clearer and more focussed. Thank you for all the interest you’ve shown. This page sums up where we think we have got to by June 2012!

What is Demand-High?

Demand High asks:

  • Are our learners capable of more, much more?
  • Have the tasks and techniques we use in class become rituals and ends in themselves?
  • How can we stop “covering material” and start focusing on the potential for deep learning?
  • What small tweaks and adjustments can we make to shift the whole focus of our teaching towards getting that engine of learning going?

What Demand-High is not

Demand High is not a method and it is not anti any method. We are not anti-Communicative Approach. We are not anti-dogme. We are not anti-Task Based Learning.

We are simply suggesting adjustments to whatever it is you are already doing in class – ways of getting much greater depth of tangible engagement and learning.

Does Demand-High mean making everything more difficult?

Demand-High is not the traditional idea of making things more difficult in ways that did not help the majority of students (e.g. setting exercises that were too hard).  When teachers did that they were probably trying to help, but were out of touch with our learning needs and therefore caused us to struggle, and with limited result.  This is un-doable demand.

We are proposing a demand that comes precisely at the point where the learner is capable of making their next steps forward – and helping them to meet that demand, rather than avoiding it. This is doable demand.

What we want to investigate

We want to explore:

  • How can I push my students to upgrade their language and improve their skills more than they believed possible?
  • How can I gain real learning value from classroom activities that have become tired or familiar?
  • What teacher interventions make a real difference?
  • How can I shift my preoccupation from “successful task “to “optimal learning”?
  • How can we transform “undoable” or “low” demand into “doable demand”?
  • What is the minimum tweak necessary at any point in any lesson to shift the activity sideways into the “challenge zone”?
  • What attitude and action changes would lead to “Demand-High” teaching in my classroom?
  • What is the demand on a teacher to become a “Demand High” teacher?

What we hope this blog will offer

Over time, we would like to offer a wide range of practical tools for teachers and trainers.

    • Observation tasks that teachers can take into peer observations
    • Ready-made Seminars for trainers to address these issues
    • Descriptions and videos of DH Classroom Management interventions
    • Practical lists of Demand High “tweaks” (to add onto what you normally do)
    • Articles to read and discuss. Experiments to try out in class.

Adrian Underhill & Jim Scrivener

36 responses to “Welcome

  1. Hi Adrian and Jim,
    Have you considered the impact of learner motivation on achievement of potential? Dornyei’s concept of Future-Self Guides suggests we focus overtly on our learners’ individual goals, and incorporate this into our course content and everyday teaching. If this increases motivation then it also increases success, and allows teachers to have higher expectations in terms of learner performance.
    What do you think?
    Steve

  2. I’m stepping into a classroom tomorrow for the first time post maternity leave and was searching for something to read to give me a liitle boost. I found it here this morning! This blog is just what I needed. Thanks for a really great read guys. I look forward to reading more :)
    Kylie

  3. Ryan Nowack

    I am quite interested in this concept as you have described it. A variety of reliable approaches in the classroom helps ensure the greatest amount of learning; therefore I am eager to hear more about Demand High. I’ll be reading! Ryan

  4. Jan Papaj

    Jim Scrivener, you’ve been with me all these 9 years in this business. Yours was the first book I reached for as a teacher trainee and I benefited greatly from it. Now this web blog! I’m excited and as someone always trying to go the extra mile to make “it” happen for my students, I’ll be keeping in touch with this great concept page. Let the lions rage. Thanks big time!!!! Janek, Czech Republic

  5. Shay

    I think this is something I would like to explore in Young Learner Pedagogy, now that there has been a shift away towards engaging our YLs in activities with linguistic validity. It falls in line with Krashen’s i+1 principle and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. I can’t wait to learn more about how to demand high.

    • I’m giving a presentation on demand high for YL at the international house YL conference next week and ill be sending a copy of everything to Jim to share on here if he wishes :)

      Kylie Malinowska

      • Hi Kylie and everyone,
        I wondered if you’d given the presentation you mention in your post above yet. At the moment, I’m doing mod2 for Delta and toying around with the idea of DHT for my experimental lesson. I’m a little unsure because of the possible shortage of info out there. The whole ‘meme’ totally resonates with me and I almost feel it’s something I’ve been doing, or trying to do (successfully or not) for some time – hence wanting to investigate it further. Do you, or anyone else have any words of advice that may help me decide whether to go ahead or not?
        Thanks.

  6. Hi Hada,

    I’m giving it tomorrow in Rome for the IHWO young learner conference. I’m not sure how to answer your question. I like the whole meme concept, so I’ve accomodated the information and made Jim and Adrian’s ideas my own to fit my context. I think (correct me if I’m wrong Jim) the whole idea of ‘reinventing’ the way we teach is not about a strict ‘method’ but a series of thoughts and questions and ideas evolving. Not sure how you could experiment with that? Maybe you could take one aspect of teaching and learning, eg pronunciation (a certain author has a very good book you can resource ;) and apply DH concepts to you lesson? Maybe make notes about the level of challenge perceived by you vs the students and get the students response?
    I’m not a Delta tutor and its years since I did it, so not sure about your criteria. Why don’t you try some of the DH peer observation tasks and see if it gives you some more ideas?

    If you’d like more info about my session, feel free to email me Yladvisor@ihworld.com

    It is being filmed (ill have to find out if I can share that though?) and ill be sending my session notes and slides to Jim and Adrian, but not until after April because I’m giving the session again at another conference. But I got all my ideas from this very blog :)

    Perhaps check out this blog? http://cambridgedelta.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/demand-high-elt-is-it-really-something-new/

    Good luck with your delta.

    Kylie

  7. Martin

    Interesting the frequency of negatives and questions in this description – an awful lot of saying what it is not and asking what it might be but very little of what it actually is.

    • I think the point of this blog is to present some ideas and then see where it goes from there. Rather than telling us what they think we should do, Jim and Adrian are just sowing a seed and then leaving it up to the rest of us to take it further.
      If you’re looking for answers or a new method to follow, this blog isn’t for you. But if you’re looking to explore some of the things that are wrong with ELT these days and consider/suggest/discuss possible solutions, you may find it quite useful.

  8. pandreop

    It reminds me of a well-organised “scaffolding” in the ELT classroom and not only…

  9. Jenny Godfrey

    Hi Jim
    I have just watched two short talks: the IATEFL interview with you anda TED talk by Ken Robinson about creativity. It seems to me that what you are asking teachers to do is think creatively about how to get more ‘mileage’ out of an activity; how to help learners to stay engaged, remember and learn. It was WONDERFUL to hear this. As a teacher educator in a university I tried for ten years to encourage my students to do what I called ‘stretching’ an activity. My more creative and courageous students got it! Many others didn’t. Many teachers like the security and ease of tightly planned materials. Colleges run assessment -focussed programs with little flexibility. Teachers fret about ‘covering’ ( whatever that means) material. In the last 10 years the focus has moved away from HOW students are learning to ticking boxes.
    Lets hope your ideas inspire teachers to be a bit more creative.

    • Janek Papaj

      Hi there, Jenny. An encouraging view and surely one to be cherished! Nevertheless, “creativity” doesn’t come natural to many teacher-colleagues I have come across (and yet it should be one of the preconditions of a good teacher!). Anyway, the impending question of “How to set free one”s creativity?” could start off another discussion on this great DH blog . PS. Interested in seeing where this blog will take us:-)

  10. Fiona Farrugia

    Fiona Farrrugia
    EF school Malta – April 14 2013
    I think this is a great idea and works very well in a classroom. We are actually encouraged to do this by our head teacher Alexandra Bianco. She an inspiration to us all and is always reminding us to challenge our students. I find that when you do they remember grammar much better.

  11. SheriF

    I read the Facebook reference to DHT last week, and had a serious think about what I was doing in class. I do a little DHT, but not enough. Inspired by the read, I’ve made a conscious effort to challenge the students and have them take at least one step out from where they are with many tasks – and it has been really rewarding. It is obvious from the response that they are enjoying the extra challenge, and find learning benefits in the activities – good reasons to continue.
    Re comments above about the sometime lack of creativity in teaching staff – no excuse! There are so many web sites offering so much free material that every teacher should have a wealth of creative, interactive, inspiring and interesting material at their fingertips!

  12. Wonderful – and very interesting. Reflection tasks could be incorporated into the blended learning environment to incorporate demand high learning, I think. Nice, this has given me some good ideas on how to incorporate demand high into the curriculum, or at least provide it as a suggestion to teachers in the online environment and inside teacher training manuals etc – thank you!

  13. Diana Ailenei

    I am glad that there are some good people out there that ask themselves the very same questions that have been bugging me since I started this profession. Pushing the students to a level that they themselves had not thought of achieving should be any teacher’s ideal. So I’ll be reading on…

  14. Hi Adrian and JIm,

    Just found your page – I’m a slow learner! It looks very good, I’ll follow it, and I wish you the best.

  15. Thanks, first of all, for this blog.
    I came here to check if DHELT was covered by lexical inferencing classroom strategies for an article I am currently researching and I think it is.

    Here, however, is my tuppence worth on my understanding of demand high teaching moments based on what I have discovered here and elsewhere:
    1. It seems to be incorporating complexity and moving away from the accuracy – fluency continuum which has dominated for so long
    2. Based on this, perhaps it is more correct to look at a Venn diagram of accuracy, fluency and accuracy where tasks move slowly towards the ‘perfect storm’ overlap of all three?
    3. I believe Merrill Swain was the first to put forward an output hypothesis where learners could provide themselves with their own input+1. She did this as a response to Krashan’s comprehensible input+1 around the 80s if my memory serves me well
    4. Lexical inferencing could certainly be a solid example of a demand high teaching opportunity … hopefully I’ll get the article published to illustrate my point here!

    Margaret

  16. Ben

    Another interesting Blog, Jim, thanks. It always amazes me what different approach different ELT Teachers take. I think having the student, not the teacher, as the main focus, works well. I’ll be sure to try some ideas from here in my next lessons.

  17. Salud Jacobo Zaño

    Interesting. BTW, I’ll be listening to you in Lima,Peru on the 31st of May

  18. Anonymous

    Hello to all hope u all be fine and healthy
    Actually it is my first time to use this website and I register in order to improve my English but I am confuse how can I use so , do you tell me how can I use it for easily to improve my English? Please

    Thanks and regards,
    Waslat

    • Janek Papaj

      Hi there Waslat. I think you did not get this website right. This website is aimed more at teachers, not students, I think. Good luck elsewhere :-)

  19. HELLO
    This website is enormously wonderful
    Thanks

  20. Hi there, my name is Mario Santamaria from Mexico city. Excellent is brilliant this is a real class for teachers. This is how you land knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Is meaningful and clear step by step to follow.I WISH YOU CAN WRITE A BOOK WITH ALL THESE TECHNIQUES AND SEMINARS. Thank you, please let us know when you coming to Mexico city.
    I’m sure that we all have problems in classrooms with behavior and is because we don’t know how to teach.

  21. Wow!
    This approach rocks, and for me more importantly entirely accords with my own experience with our potentially co-creating learners.
    You have a new fan……

  22. Hi guys,
    I’ve attended a workshop on Demand-High teaching recently, I myself am a ELT teacher and a coach. “Demand-High” is a weird name, in my opinion. I suggest you re-name it “Uplifted Learning & Teaching”. With a sense of upgrading, raising to a higher point.

  23. Thanks for this presentation.
    I wasn`t there to see it. But we did a workshop about it today in Agadir, Morocco.
    Tanmert

  24. Drew

    You come over like a bunch of do-gooder girl guides, overcome with jargonitis (‘lexical inferencing’?) I understand that some of you want to justify what you’re doing and that the longer you do something you need to feel you’re progressing, make a name for yourselves even. But this is another reminder to me of how inward looking the whole thing is, even within the parameters of the industry you work in. If you really want to know what’s wrong with, then log into Tefl.com and read some of the adverts and what they’re offering in re-numeration. Note the McDonaldisation and the soulless maneouvering of private equity funded education. Stop thinking you’re moral crusaders. Unless you’re very fortunate, the business context you’re working within is not nearly as idealistic.

  25. Helen Rowland

    I came across the Demand High talks today by chance on You Tube, and couldn’t believe how both Adrian and Jim were echoing what I have come to realize after a few months of observing classes, that so little was in fact being asked of the students. I saw the teachers using up so much energy, and the students quite content to let them work hard while they, the students, could just lean back and let the class flow without practically any effort on their part. I think that the mistake comes in the actual lesson plan preparation. Instead of the teacher saying “What shall I teach today?”, the main question should be “What do my students need to learn today?” and, the answer to that is the basis for the design of the activities in the classroom. Very simply, you can teach until you’re blue in the face, but if there’s no or very little learning, all your efforts are in vain.
    I started my ELT training too at International House in Shaftesbury Avenue with a 10-week RSA course in 1971, so more or less I’m of the same vintage as Adrian and Jim, and it seems interesting to me that they have come to this realization in these later years of their career, just like myself.
    I look forward to studying more what’s on this webpage.

    • Jenny Godfrey

      well said Helen!. We have always advocated less ‘teacher talk’ and a greater focus on student learning. As a teacher educator I asked my students to present their lesson plans with a ‘what the student will do ‘ column beside the teacher’s ‘what I will do ‘ column. Many students, especially those who were not already teachers, or were secondary teachers, found it quite hard to visualise what the students would actually have to do in an activity. My students also had to explain how what they were asking the class to do was related to the current theorie/s of second language learning. (Ahh but that was in a postgrad diploma/MA course, not a CELTA).
      A lot of ELT is a performance by the teacher, and many people who love to perform go into the field. It’s sometimes a challenge to get them to leave the spotlight…..
      I also find that beginning teachers are, and need to be, very focussed on what they themselves are doing. it is only after some experience that they have the headspace to notice what their learners are doing . (except for elementary school teachers, who are usually very learner-focussed EL teachers. )

      A lot of the old ‘routines’ weren’t very effective for much other than for drill and entertainment, even in 1971 when i was at Int House, like you.

      Now in 2014 digital technologies have lobbed a grenade into ELT and it is time to reassess what we do with students in the classroom. Demand High is a good place to start.

  26. Simon Marshall

    High Demand requires a High Motivation and High Commitment which for me are essential for maximising successful teaching and learning. High Demand should not only be restricted to the language learning classroom but also extend to the selection process for prospective candidates for such pre-service courses as CELTA and Trinity Cert TESOL. Such programmes are marvellous starting points, even more so if the participants actually have some intrinsic motivation to become teachers. I still genuinely thrive on pre-service training work after three decades and more. However, I have noticed over the past few (5 or so) years that there are an increasing number of extremely weak candidates who, when you talk to them during tutorials and dig a bit deeper (“inquisitive tweaking?”), are principally doing the course “to get a job abroad.” I cannot blame them for that as the current brilliantly orchestrated economic crisis often forces them to do so. But there’s the rub. They want a job but they don’t (particularly) want to be teachers.
    So are we bold enough to ask more High Demand questions at pre-course interview or do we let them on to increase course numbers or “to give them a chance?” (A chance to do what exactly might be an interesting question for the interviewer to ask themselves?)
    If an applicant, when asked why they want to do the course, says (something like) “I would to travel, I like people, I’m interested in other cultures and languages and a friend did this course and said it was excellent.” Would a follow up “tweak” such us “Yes, All good reasons. Now can you tell me why you want to be a teacher?” “What motivates you to spend a lot of money to engage in an intensive course and investigate and teach the fascinating complexities of English grammar in a high pressure circumstances?” (The latter especially important to native speakers with no language learning background) If this sounds like a bit of a grilling then so be it. People are getting better at “bigging themselves up” when they apply so interviews need a commensurate increase in rigour. There are thorough, well crafted written tasks at many centres which require trainees to write about the qualities of a good teacher and complete language analysis exercises which are all neatly and cosily done in private. These often don’t seem to suffice, though, High Demand face-to-face (or at least voice – to – voice) questions might encourage the applicant to think again before signing their name on the dotted line and prevent them from flailing away at something they don’t like and are not competent at half way through the course. For me, there must be some traditional element of vocation in teaching. Without a “desire to teach” there is little reason to Demand High but rather to “get through the lesson”. To “do the materials.” To manage, To cope. To get over the line. TO SURVIVE..
    I would lo spend less time rescuing those who are struggling and much more time training more intrinsically participants to become even better. To be be in a position to Demand High of the trainee so that they can., in turn, Demand High of themselves and those they teach.

  27. Simon Marshall

    Just realised that I wrote High Demand in my post above instead of Demand High.. Please excuse this as a mixture of carelessness, over zealous Puritanism, old age, tiredness and probably some deep seated Freudian slip…….

  28. Nice idea. I’m an English teacher who got an MBA to improve my Business English skills. The approach reminds me of the Toyota Way, something we studied in our Supply Chain Management course. Basically, everyone who works at Toyota is vigilant for ways to improve. This might be as simple as moving a wrench from the left table to the right table. You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Production_System

  29. Margaret

    For what it’s worth the article mentioned above about Demand High & Lexical inferencing is now available online:
    http://ihjournal.com/special-report-lexical-inferencing%E2%80%A6a-chance-to-demand-high-by-margaret-horrigan

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