Category Archives: Demand High ELT

Demand High ELT Chat Summary (7 March 2013)

DHELT wordle

The eagerly awaited #AusELT chat around Demand High ELT (DHELT) on March 7 certainly did not disappoint. Just keeping up with the frantic and exhilarating pace and remembering to use two hash tags was a ‘demand high’ task in itself! The #AusELT community was delighted to welcome ELT luminaries Jim Scrivener (@jimscriv) and Adrian Underhill (@adriund) as well as some new faces to #AusELT chat: @andrea_rivett, @meredithMacAul1, @karlprodger and @stiiiv. A hearty thank you from us all to @trylingual for making this chat happen, for expert moderating of a very pacey chat, and to Adrian U for joining Twitter J

So after the initial meeting and greeting, the chat kicked off with @trylingual asking us:

What does DHELT mean to you?

  • Focus on intensive learning, getting the most out of learners. Good teaching! (@Eslkazzyb)
  • Not cruising, making the most of learning moments that come up (@SophiaKhan4)
  • Taking your teaching to the best possible version (@eslsharenow)
  • Raising my expectations about learners’ abilities, not underestimating them (@Penultimate_K)
  • The challenge in the moment to go a little deeper…push a little further each time (@trylingual)

There seemed to be a consensus that DHELT has a focus on maximising potential of learners and teachers (@andrea_rivett), on ‘doable demand’ with incremental and considered challenges, requiring a focus of working/responding in the moment. @MeredithMacAul1 captured the essence tweeting that you can teach the same lesson to different students and have a different set of ‘engagements’. @jimscriv added that for him DHELT simply means an exploration of if he can/how he can challenge his students more. And noted it is about the students being pushed with the teacher doing the pushing. @ElkySmith and @Adriund reminded us that to challenge learners we need to be conscious of who they are on an individual level. @jimscriv reminded us to really listen to students and hear what they say.

Throughout the chat there was naturally lots of valuable tweeting to and fro about various techniques. I think it is worth highlighting the tweet from @jimscriv early on in the piece:   

jim no set formula

[The salient question seems to be] WHATEVER you do, what makes it more challenging?

What does DHELT look like?
Naturally, the chat soon turned to what shape DHELT takes in the classroom. The term ‘intervention’ is used by Jim and Adrian and this prompted @tonystock to ask more about ‘interventions’. @trylingual followed up with requests for teacher prompts that would form the basis of an intervention (in my understanding). See the transcript for a number of examples and suggestions J @TESOLatMQ provided a slide shot that summed up a lot of the chat questions very neatly but may have got slightly lost in the chat due to the pace, so here it is:

DHELT v current

Teacher considerations
Inevitably the very valid question was raised about the demands/obstacles for teachers.
@SophiaKhan4 acknowledged that teachers often feel tired. A number of participants, including myself chirped in commenting that a challenge can re-energise – easy for me to say when I am not teaching full time!?! @SophiaKhan4 also mentioned the need for confidence and techniques. With regards to techniques, teacher narratives were suggested as a tool for exploring and sharing.
@Penultimate_K raised the expectations and assumptions made around the roles of learners and teachers.
@trylingual asked whether we can ‘plan’ for DHELT. There was some discussion around planning for DHELT with @jimsriv commenting that he ‘prepares’ rather than ‘plans’ pointing to the need to be prepared to be flexible ‘working live’ in the classroom. A good reminder!


A number of participants tweeted to and fro about whether DHELT can be taught and at what stage – CELTA/in-service? There was consensus that the first year of so of teaching is more about ‘survival’ but then…..

observations 2

Food for thought to take away…

  • There was agreement that coursebook materials can be better exploited/ adapted/extended to be more demanding thus engaging for students (win/win for Ts and Ss)
  • A valuable read is the 1-1 post ( @eslsharenow
  • Small individual upgrades over time = one big upgrade @jimscriv
  • Not being afraid of monitoring closely, taking notes to use for ‘interventions’ @Eslkazzyb, @ElkySmith
  • Not overdoing praise, appropriate encouragement (@MeredithMacAul1), not ‘rubberstamping’ @jimscriv
  • Teaching the students, not the plan… is ok to ‘interfere’@jimscriv

And lastly………

last thoughts

Summary by @Eslkazzyb (Karen Benson)

DHELT chat transcript

Demand High ELT Part 3

This is our third post in our series on Demand High ELT. We hope you are getting into this topic as much as we are. This week we delve even deeper.

A teacher stands at the front of a classroom. Students arrive steadily. Quick nods or a simple ‘Morning’ are exchanged. The teacher is getting himself in the zone. ‘How are you today?’ Game face on. ‘Great weather today, right?’ Fresh caffeine courses through his veins. ‘How was the homework from yesterday?’

The teacher goes through his game plan in the last few moments as the students settle for the start of class. 

Right. Today I am going to do this Demand High ELT thing. 

CLT obviously has some gaps in it. 

I need to try this new approach. 

I am sure a new approach is what my lessons need to get more from my students. 

‘Right, everyone. Let’s get started…’


Our teacher here seems to be going in the right direction. However, before you go into your classroom trying to embody the new generation on Demand High ELT practitioners, let’s consider one more post from Adrian Underhill and Jim Scrivener at the Demand High ELT blog.

Here are the take away points from their post that we think are important for understanding Demand High ELT:

  • Demand High ELT is not a method -it appears to be a layer you can add to any method
  • Demand High ELT offers ‘a small course correction’ to your current teaching approach – it does not assume that you are going in the wrong the direction though
  • Demand High ELT is a meme – it allows for practitioners to interpret it in their own way and for their own contexts
  • Demand High ELT is ‘a learnING centred view of teaching rather than a learnER centered one’ – this seems to allow for demand moments to be explored

Now we return to our teacher pumped, psyched and raring to unleash his teaching talents on his class. Is this teacher as prepared as he thinks he is? What should teachers consider before trying to apply Demand High ELT? What do they need to do before to prepare for making a shift to Demand High ELT?

Please leave your comments below and join us on March 7th for our chat with Jim Scrivener.

Demand High ELT Part 2

This post continues on our topic of Demand High ELT. Don’t forget to join us on March 7th for our chat session with Jim Scrivener on this topic.

A teacher sits in a noisy staff room. An untouched tuna sandwich and a half-finished cup of coffee sit in front the teacher. A photocopier whirs away monotonously in the background. The teacher massages her own temples. Co-workers keep their distance. Migraine setting in? Deep in thought? A monologue rages within.

My students can do more. I know it!

What am I doing wrong?

The students had fun.

The lesson materials were very good.

I had a well-planned lesson.

The students were engaged.

I gave corrections and feedback at the end of tasks.

The lesson aims were achieved.

But I still feel they can do more.

What do I need to do differently?

Hmmm…I’m going to need another cup of coffee for this.

We introduced you to the notion of Demand High ELT last week. Let’s delve a little deeper this time into the details of this topic.

Demand High ELT poses a few basic questions that most teachers can ask themselves (we quote these from the Demand High ELT Blog) :

  • 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?

These are placed alongside two caveats:

  • Demand High is not a method and it is not anti any method.
  • (N.B. We have paraphrased here.) Doable demand – helping the learner at the point they are being challenged in manner that lets them move forward

Please take the time to click through to introduction page at the Demand High ELT Blog as it goes through some of these points, and others, in more detail.

At this stage, it would be helpful to understand a bit more again about where Adrian Underhill and Jim Scrivener are coming from. Below you can see the slides from their 2012 IATEFL Conference presentation on Demand High ELT. Even without being there to hear them present, their slides allow us to understand how Demand High ELT might look in practice.

Where does this leave our teacher from before? What changes would a CLT teacher make if they were to take on some the notions of Demand High ELT?

Please join us on March 7th to discuss this topic further and feel free to leave a comment with the #AusELT community below.

Demand High ELT

#AusELT is excited by its first ever guest for next month’s chat on March 7th, 8:30pm AESDT. Jim Scrivener will be joining us to discuss developments in ‘Demand High ELT’.

‘You can start NOW’. There is a buzz in the room. Laughter erupts from one table. Conversations continue with ease. The teacher wanders the room with a sense of contentment but makes a few quick notes of errors made on the target language. A table of students notices this but the teacher makes light of it and moves on without incident. These errors are brought up in an anonymous, non-confrontational manner to the whole class later, corrected as required and the class moves on. Time is up. ‘See you, teacher’. 

The teacher evaluates the lesson; lesson aims achieved, highly communicative tasks, feedback provided, happy students, successful lesson.

Or was it? Could our teacher be doing more?

Communicative Language Teaching has been the contemporary approach in ELT for some decades now. However, voices are challenging whether it could be enhanced to do more. I have personally had discussions with a number of colleagues on this topic over the past few years. What is striking is that the teaching instincts of many teachers are sensing that something is amiss.

Adrian Underhill adds some thoughts on this CLT dilemma below.

Underhill lays out some questions for our teacher above:

  • Were the students challenged enough?
  • What was the demand like on the students?
  • Could the students (and the teacher) be doing more?

When you spend some time looking at how striking this issue is within ELT, as Underhill states, there are a number of levels that need to be considered. It is difficult for initial teacher training courses like the CELTA to sufficiently tackle these questions. This is often due to time constraints and the demanding nature of these courses. Coursebooks and other lesson materials are not always consciously designed to deal with the questions. In-house PD sessions in colleges may hit on these questions but an hour long session may not have the impact needed. The same could be said for lesson observations that are often done by Academic Managers or a teacher’s peers.

This brings us to an area currently being investigated by Underhill and Jim Scrivener, ‘Demand-High Teaching’. These two well-known ELT authors laid out the premise of this notion in an article published in The Guardian in October 2012.

What are your thoughts on ‘Demand High ELT’? Please join us on March 7th to discuss this topic further and feel free to leave a comment with the #AusELT community below.