What is Demand High?

(The text below formed the front page of this website from June 2012 – January 2015)



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


12 responses to “What is Demand High?

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  4. Chas

    Sounds really good, will this work at all levels and with all ages?

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  7. Marwan Ibrahim

    Thank you so much for sharing this interesting topic.
    I like it: Let’s make our classes and exercises more challenging.

  8. Pingback: Teaching Young Learners – Demand High?  — классный час

  9. Pingback: How to challenge the student? – David's Adventures in ESL

  10. Elisabet

    I’m ready for it !

  11. Elisabet

    I’m ready for it !

  12. Pingback: Demand High ELT – Teaching Resources by Jason

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