Demand High

This week Adrian Underhill visited International House Reggio Calabria to do some team building and to deliver an INSETT session on Demand High – a practice he came up with along with Jim Scrivener.

As the name suggests – it is the idea of asking more from your students and ensuring that they are fulfilling their potentials. Watch clips of Jim and Adrian giving sessions on Demand High learning…

Here are a few key points that Adrian made…

  • Be at the learning edge – Simply the idea that we should be pushing students to the limits of what they can do, not just being on a comfortable plateau.
  • Exploit materials – Due to coursebooks’ understandably wide appeal, it is often down to the teacher to get more out of activities in order to challenge and engage students.
  • Upgrade culture – There’s always something more to do with the students. Don’t just let an answer be right or wrong, but find out agreements / disagreements and question why.
  • 1-1 in a group – Adrian explained that for him, there is no such thing as a group class, but a number of different 1-1 classes all happening at the same time. Our job as teachers is to keep ‘pulling the strings’ of each student to make sure they are at the learning edge.


Here’s one example from the session and just a few ideas our group came up with based on the ideas above.



  • Don’t give correct answers straight away. Make students think about it.
  • Put some or all of the phrases into one dialogue.
  • Play with the stress and intonation to create different meanings in the phrases.
  • Fine-tune the pronunciation.
  • Substitute words to create other possible phrases and answers.


And here’s another…demand-high-2

  • Tell the story first without the text and see if students can remember what you said.
  • Find words that mean the same thing (magician, who, he)
  • Get students to remember what word came before or after another until they build up chunks of language.
  • Go further into the story. What’s the magician’s name and what does he look like? describe the venue, the knife etc…


It was a fun activity for us, and this Adrian’s point about ‘the playfulness of language’.

Phonology and pronunciation featured fairly heavily in the session and we explore using our…

  • inner ear (internally repeating something that’s just been said)
  • inner mouth (thinking about how to say it)
  • whisper
  • private voice (aloud but to yourself)
  • public voice (aloud)

The idea of this is that it gives students more time to think and then to fine-tune what they’re going to say.

I’m going to try all of these techniques out. Let me know if you do and how they go!


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