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Week 4: Why don't students learn what I teach?

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Last updated by Breda Matthews

Hi everyone,

     Last week saw the very useful Ministry of Education Zoom sessions that walked us through completing ELLP documentation.


There are not a lot of questions coming through at the moment - get posting people! However, in a different context, I have been asked about measuring student progress and when to move on to something new.


I think we are all aware that students don’t always instantly learn what we have taught. In fact I remember a lecture where I was told that we are teaching students things that they will master at some time in the future. I think it is a critical point to remember. All too often I fall into the trap of thinking ‘I’ve taught them that, so they should know it’  but the truth is that language acquisition is a process. It takes time and mastery takes longer.


When my students haven’t yet mastered something I’ve taught them, I like to employ strategies that facilitate ‘noticing’ and that provide multiple opportunities to hear, see and use the new items. 


The noticing hypothesis is a theory within second-language acquisition that a learner cannot continue advancing their language abilities or grasp linguistic features unless they consciously notice the input. The theory was proposed by Richard Schmidt in 1990. You may like to read Principles of Instructed Language Learning by Rod Ellis.


ESOL Online has many strategies to assist with providing learner with multiple opportunities to hear, see and use the new items - do take a look at this ESOL Online page and share it with your colleagues.


Shared with our community

The latest Ministry of Education ESOL Update can be found here.


Dates to be aware of


ESOL funding applications are due by 1 March. 


TESSOL further study awards, in 2021 the MOE is offering a limited number of additional awards for further study in the TESSOL field. These awards are targeted at teachers who have successfully done the TESSOL scholarship funded courses of a New Zealand TESSOL qualification but have not completed it, or teachers who have completed a TESSOL qualification and wish to do further study.  Keep a look out on the TESSOL Further Study Awards information page.


The closing date for abstracts for the October 2021 CLESOL conference  is 26th February. - that’s this week!



Virtual TESOL Convention 2021 TESOL International Association. Convention & English Language Expo, 24-27 March 2021. 


In other communities

Secondary Literacy Online shared a link to research conducted at the  University of Helsinki which looked at factors in the mathematics classroom that ca nimpact student achievement patterns. It certainly made me reflect on class placement of ELLs in other subjects. Links and a summary from Jacqueline are below.

 Development of low-stakes mathematics and literacy test scores during lower secondary school – A multilevel pattern-centered analysis of student and classroom differences from Ketonen and Hotulainen (2019) showed that aside from individual characteristics, the classroom factors such as classroom placement and peer factors can have a stronger effect on student test scores. The study stated that "context and classmates seem to play a bigger role in the classrooms having more low achieving students, indicating a potential risk for increasing achievement gap between lower secondary school classrooms." This means that practice of class placement of students (whether deliberate or unintentional) is creating "further educational inequality in terms of heterogenous compositional effects". In classrooms with high achievers the variance in text score development was explained by individual factors rather than classroom context, however those in classes with mainly "low performers or more homogeneity in terms of achievement, the contextual effect is clearly stronger."

Have a great week.


Breda Matthews

Facilitator: Secondary ESOL community 


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