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“Implementing Demand High ELT” mptansey@gmail.


Demand-High does not propose some return to “traditional” teaching and that “Demand High” means
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.

In contrast, the authors 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.

Some questions that might be useful for you to investigate via classroom experiment:

 How can I push my students to upgrade their language and improve their skills more than they believed

 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 BOTH “undoable” or AND “low” demands into “doable demands”?

 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?
Implementing Demand High ELT
Can we really challenge our students and get closer to learning?

“Implementing Demand High ELT”

Some Ways of Demanding High
In the feedback stage when you are checking answers after students have done a course book question/answer exercise … what else could you
explore? Here are some ideas for moving beyond “correct” and “wrong”.
Checking answers in ways that avoid rubberstamping
 (silence … creative waiting … thinking space …)
 Are there any other answers?
 Do you agree with her answer? What do you think?
 “Blank face”
 “Devil’s advocate”

Behind the answer
 Why is that the answer?
 Why do you think the person said that?
 Where might someone say this?
 Who would say it?
 How would they say it?
 Put it in an A/B conversation. What is said before or after?

 Listen to me saying it. Don’t repeat. Replay my voice in your head.
 Listen to how she says it. Hear the language and music in your head.
 Listen to the echo of my voice in your head. Now … change it (to a parent, a friend, star etc).
 Say it in your head.

Feelings / paralinguistic features
 What face would you make when you say it?
 Any movement?
 Try it stronger, weaker. Does changing your face / movement
change how you say it?

 Mumble it.
 Hum the tune of the sentence, but don’t say any words.
 Say it faster, more fluently.
 How many syllables?
 Where are the stressed syllables? Which is strongest?
 Is “…X …” stressed? Why / why not?
 Listen to me. Where do I stress it?
 Make a stress diagram e.g. ooOooOoo
 Say only the stresses. Say it to your partner. With feeling. Get meaning across with just stresses.
 Put the “little” words back between the stresses … but take the same length of time to say it all!
 Is it possible to change the stress? What does that do to the meaning?
“Implementing Demand High ELT”

 How did I pronounce “the”? (or other words) e.g. noticing weak forms.
 Put it together with the next word / the word before / the chunk / the clause.
 Compare this student saying it with me saying it. Think: are there any differences?
 (Not just the right words in the right order – but the best you can say it). Say it to me / to your partner / across the
room / mingling with lots of people. Close your book – recall it. Whisper it.

 Drills. How to make them thrilling, fully engaging, genuinely upgrading?
 … loudly / quietly / whispering / shouting / chanting / slowly / fast / exaggerated intonation
 Listen to your partner … help her to say it better! She says it > you listen > you give feedback > she tries again > you give
more feedback etc.
 They don’t learn from explanations. They learn from practice > feedback> upgrade > practice etc. It is the practice that
makes the difference. And not a little. A lot!

 Close your books. Can you recall the sentence?
 What was the sentence before this one?

 What is your favourite mistake with this?
 Now that you can say it correctly … can you
remember the mistake you started with?
 Say both – the mistake … then correction.
 Keep trying it, with feedback each time,
again and again. Practice does make better!

Playful with grammar and lexis
 Can you change the verb to a different one?
 Does that change the meaning?
 Change one word. Make a new sentence with the same meaning.
 Can you make the sentence using “… X …” instead of “… Y …”?
 Can you make a sentence with a similar meaning using different
 … and another … and another … and another
 Could we miss out one word without really changing the meaning?
 Can you say the sentence using exactly 7 words? 13? 1?
(NB Tasks don’t have to be possible to be useful)
 Can you change the word order of any of these words?
 Make a new sentence starting with
“Next week …” Starting “If …” Starting “You…”
 What other words can we use instead of “concert”?
 Change the formality, context, relationship etc

Working modes
 Whole class, alert, engaged. You keep varying who you challenge and how.
 Can you pitch the challenge to an individual’s need: the upgrade that is most relevant to that student at that moment?
 “One-to-one within a group”: help one student upgrade her production of one sentence, while you as teacher remain in
touch with the others and aim to keep them engaged.
 Can you avoid “yap” mode? Intervene with authority but using “the least that is enough”.
 “How did you do that?” “What did you have to do to do it?” “What makes it easy / difficult?”
“Implementing Demand High ELT”

Jim Scrivener (April 2013)