Demand High ELT – is it really something new?

The concept of ‘demand high ELT’ was first introduced at IATEFL Glasgow in 2012 in a talk by Jim Scrivener, in which he told the story of the long conversations with Adrian Underhill and how they both felt that they needed to redefine or reshape their beliefs/ideas in terms of good ELT practice.

Here are his slides from that talk

Here you can watch a recent presentation by Jim Scrivener himself at the IH DOS conference in 2013
Here is also a link to an article in the Guardian Weekly in which they explain all

As expected when speakers/authors of their calibre come up with some new claim, there was a lot of interest in the whole notion/angle, and the talk has been repeated since several times at conferences around the world.

Jim Scrivener & Adrian Underhill also created a related blog – Demand High ELT  in which they post news, observation tasks and slides or interview and posts.

An interesting post which went up recently looks at demand high ELT as a possible topic for a Module 2 Experimental Assignment – part of your PDA.

Here is the title with the link Doing Delta Module Two? Could Demand-High be your Alternative Practice?

#ELTchat discussion on this topic

Recently, on the 16th of January, I moderated an #ELTchat discussion on Twitter with the title

“How does Demand High Teaching differ from Dogme (if at all)” 

The discussion was quite lively and joined even by Jim Scrivener himself – you can read the transcript of our conversation here  and Carolyn Kerr’s great summary here

Demand High and Dogme – brothers in arms or distant cousins?

Everyone, including Mr Scrivener, was pretty thrilled with the attention to DHELT and Carolyn’s summary was also featured in the DHELT blog by the two authors.

An #ELTchat summary is, of course, always useful to read but, oftentimes, may also reflect the writer’s attitude, so it’s a good idea to have a look at the actual tweets

Enter Jeremy Harmer

Today Jeremy Harmer published a blog post which has had the blogosphere wondering if there will be a tiif or what….


Does reading (and learning a language) require two brains?

Jeremy reports some research which found different parts of the brain active during pleasure reading and language work and started off a discussion which goes into Krashen and further questions a number of things, amongst which demand high ELT which he calls ‘somewhat ramshackle’ …. hmm

I am not sure the research Jeremy quotes has much to do with whether language analysis or conscious learning is more or less effective than pleasure reading; he seems to think it does prove something – but there your are, this is what the discussion is all about.

Comments have already been added by Scott Thornbury and others, and, soon, I expect, by Jim Scrivener who very humorously put out the following tweettweet

What do YOU think?

We can discuss Mr Harmer’s claim about this research in a different post/thread, but for now, I would like you to reflect on demand high ELT.

Do you think it a new approach?

Do you think it’s something worth considering?

Is it a new method?

Is it a new attitude?

Have you noticed any ‘demand low ELT’ in your locale?

Please add your comments below


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Published by Marisa Constantinides

I train TEFL teachers at CELT in Athens Greece and online - our main courses are Cambridge CELTA and Delta. I interact with educators from all over the world through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and through blogging

10 thoughts on “Demand High ELT – is it really something new?

  1. I read the Guardian article and the slides in the post and I do not think this is a new method. It’s something that many teachers use in class naturally when they want to guarantee that Ss got the rule/concept. Many teachers are not after ‘right’ and ‘wrong answer’, we go beyond this. But, not all of the times I am going to ‘swim’ in the sea of language. Sometimes, I will be after true and false because I have things to do and a list to finish. I am teaching academic English and the problem I am facing is that I have to cover certain things in the class, because this is what we required to do. I feel tied to the constraints of this class, but happy with the challenge posed. I will try covering what I have from the material with my style in teaching included.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Ola. It would be good to hear what your colleagues also think about these questions and particularly whether Jeremy Harmer is justified in calling demand high ELT ‘ramshackle’

      What do you think?

      I would also encourage all of you to read the comments and discussion developing round J Harmer’s post with even Dr Stephen Krashen putting in an appearance to dispel the comments being made about his beliefs, i.e. that he considers classroom instruction useless.

      Those of you who have watched his videotaped talk given as far back as sometime in the 80’s will recall perhaps that he does put value on classroom instruction ‘up to the intermediate level’, after which, he suggests, the learners should be able to take care of their own learning.


  2. Hi Marisa,
    I just stumbled upon this blog while doing some research (I’m presenting on DH for YL at the IHWO YL Conference next week). I enjoyed this post.Thank you. A nice summary of the DH train – and I especially enjoyed reading Jeremy’s ‘ramshackle’ discussion. I hadn’t looked at his blog for quite a while. Glad I didn’t miss out on reading that thread 🙂


  3. Oh,and to Olabraki, in the words of Jim himself when I was discussing DH with him at the IH DOS conference……
    It’s not a method, it’s a meme.
    Think about it…I did. And it was this comment that made all the difference for me 🙂


  4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Kylie.

    My question to my DELTA candidates is really this:

    If this is not a method, or new, in what way can we justify doing it as an Experimental assignment on the DELTA PDA?

    Can we and should we?



  5. Hi Marisa,
    Good post! The blog looks like a great resource for those doing the DELTA course.

    I urge you to use your blog to speak freely: tell us what YOU think. .


  6. Also lots of drivel being posted in blog posts which claim to have found the answer about why DH needed to be thought of or has a claim to existing….

    Not everyone has to have their two-cents about DH – really, no.


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