New Zealand Certificate in English Language gives learners options

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Hafisi is originally from Cambodia, and experienced firsthand how important it is to study English for a successful life in New Zealand.

He joined English Language Partners Porirua centre three years ago, and began to study NZCEL Level 1. Once he had passed with a basic understanding of English, he set off to gain his bus driving certification. But he quickly realised that he might have left his classes to join the workforce too soon.

“I felt pressured to stop my studies and go get a job, even though my English wasn’t at a good level.”

“When I was driving a bus, it was hard to communicate with customers. Some customers even told me off! Actually, you need a certain level of English, even to drive a bus. I wanted to stop, because I didn’t like it when some people got grumpy at me.”

Hafisi eventually left his job as a driver, and looked into starting up a small business.

“I learned painting, because I wanted to work for myself. I trained for a year and a half, but again, I found it hard to communicate with my customers. It was frustrating for me and for them.”

new Zealand Certificate in English Language - hafisi 2

“You have to make quotes, use technical language, and listen to what the customer wants. But sometimes I don’t understand. I thought, how can I run a business if I can’t speak English?”

“I didn’t even originally want to be a painter, but I didn’t have much choice. So I stopped painting, and decided to come back to class to learn more English.”

“Because New Zealand is mainly an English speaking country, it’s too hard to live without the language. For me, it’s stressful. Hard to open a business, hard to socialise. Some people maybe don’t care, but for me, I didn’t like the stress. Studying NZCEL Level 2 allows us to have choices and future goals.”

ELP centre manager Jacqs Wilton says, “NZCEL Level 2 puts people at a level of independence. They still have a lot of learning to do, but it puts people in a place where they can make choices for further work or further study.”

Hafisi has made great progress now that he is back at ELP studying NZCEL Level 2.

“I feel I’ve improved a lot! We are focusing on speaking, grammar and a lot of vocabulary. A few months ago, people couldn’t understand me, now I have a lot more words to use. I have learned 1,000 words I think since I’ve restarted my studies.”

“I do my homework, and we are given activities on our phones and using technology. My teacher is good, she speaks nice and clear, and is good at explaining things. The staff are all nice and friendly here.”

“It’s pretty cool to meet all these other people from around the world too. We learn from each other, we share our cultures together.”

“Level 2 is a nice smooth pathway into further study. Once I had gained Level 2, I can reach other goals. I plan to enrol in NZCEL Level 3 in Whitereia next year, and then study IT. So, I think it’s been a good pathway for me.”

“If I have to do something, I just go and do it. You can’t be nervous!”


  • 34 hours per week (20 classroom hours, 14 hours of homework and self-study)
  • Study for an NZQA certificate and achieve NZQA Unit Standards in English language
  • Qualified teachers
  • For New Zealand citizens and residents
  • Free programme
  • In Bay of Plenty, Porirua and Hutt centres
  • More about our NZCEL courses
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