Education research backs our methods of learning

Enquiry and independent learning produces results in the New Zealand education system

Our learning methods and results have been consistently proven to be more effective than the industry standard, with results 3 times faster than the Common European framework (CEF) standards for language learning and up to 8 times faster than the commonly perceived standard level of NZQA affiliated language schools.

Looking at comparisons and performance reports from NZQA in relation to ESL leraners and comparing these results to the CEF expectations, the most striking point of the CEF is the time taken for improvement and reaching the next level. At full time study (20 hours per week) the increase from one level to the next is 10 weeks. Talking to both teachers and students, everyone agrees that this is very rarely seen in language schools, public schools and any other NZQA approved learning institution. The learning dynamic that NZQA encourages does not stimulate this kind of improvement rate. However, the NZQA is still often satisfied with a school’s performance based on this standard.

There are only 3 possibilities:

  1. The schools are falsifying their student’s results
  2. NZQA is not assessing the schools properly according to their own standards, or overlooking the vast majority.
  3. The impressions that teachers and students have of their own experiences are significantly different to data that NZQA have of their actual improvement.

High school study

International student’s performance in high schools is not high on average. And though there is very little publically available information and statistics I have found Ministry statistics which show that average rate of NCEA achievement forInternational fee paying students (IFP) students to be around 30% The table below gives a comparison over 3 years. Bearing in mind that IFP students have the option of ESOL standards in NCEA which are achievable for international students, the natural language disadvantage of not being native speakers is not as significant as one may think at first. The source for these statistics can be found at:

NCEA result comparison


Together with these less than ideal results, most language schools are rated as excellent or good in most areas. This is surprising as actual student performance is not seen to be that good in comparison to the CEF figures, which the NZQA seem to be using as a basis of performance. Both students and teachers find the CEF times for improvement from one level to the next to be highly unrealistic. This feeling is of course based on the real experience of the students taking these language courses.

IELTS study

Although data on the performance of students studying in New Zealand taking IELTS doesn’t seem to be taken or is not publically available, based on my company’s statistics and my teaching experience at language schools, focusing on Japanese students (as this is my main area of knowledge), the average Japanese student would come to New Zealand at around IELTS 3.0, sometimes less, sometimes more, but 3.0 would definitely be average.

The overall average average IELTS result for Japanese student is 5.8 (general) and the average student would take around 2.5 years of study to go from IELTS 3.0 to 5.8 at a language school. A lot of this time is apportioned to the fact that most schools will not allow students who are under pre-intermediate (around IELTS 4.5) take their IELTS class. These students must first improve enough in the general English class, and then start studying for IELTS. This takes a lot of time and money, but is necessary for the schools performance to not look bad during the NZQA audit.

Comparison to the CEF framework gives this as the improvement from A2 to B2, which according to the CEF should take 400 hours or 20 weeks full time. This is much shorter than the actual time experienced in language schools of 2,500 hours or 125 weeks which is the norm.

However, we do have data which proves that a faster pace is very much possible, and while we have many different students who study at different paces according to their own budget and time available to them, an average selection is provided below.

KIWI@HOME IELTS Student's results

Student Start level Middle level Study time End level TotalStudy time Compare CEF (CEF time)
Y.S Mid-Low 3 IELTS 5.5 82 hours IELTS 6.0 120 hours

A2 -> B2 (400 hrs)

30% of CEF time

J.T High 2     6.0 (mock test) 168 hours

A1 -> B2 (500 hrs)

33.6% of CEF time

N.Y Low 3     IELTS 6.5 245 hours

A2 -> B2/C1 (500 hrs)

49% CEF time

H.M High 4     IELTS 6.0 58 hours

B1 -> B2 (200hrs)

29% of CEF time


It is interesting to note that students studying using this particular private lesson system take around 1/3 of the time CEF recommends, while at the same time, teachers and students alike all say that the CEF recommended times are totally unrealistic for the international students in New Zealand. This rationale is based on the idea that Europeans will acquire English language much faster than Asian people will, and by teaching and learning experience. While this is invariably true, given an efficient learning method, properly managed, it is possible to help learners achieve at an even faster rate.

Time versus cost comparison

Comparing the time taken from the same starting point for a student studying IELTS, with a starting point of IELTS 3.0 shows significant difference in both time and money required to achieve a certain level. Naturally the actual times taken will depend on the individual, but the graph below is based on an average student.


The official data shows that although the average results of International students is very low, the reason for this may be reasonably implied to be from the fact that most international students are not sufficiently trained in the learning methods favoured by schools in New Zealand. International students are most commonly stuck in rote learning styles which are familiar and less challenging, but in the end this does not produce results in our education system. At language schools, large classes and a high probability of making friends from the same country is a significant factor in reducing the effectiveness of study.

IELTS, classes are usually only available to students who are already good enough to achieve well in the exam, as schools need to show that their students are improving somewhat. This means that there are a reasonably significant number of students who never progress into IELTS classes at all before they run out of time and money