New Zealand Certificates in English Language (Levels 1-5)

New Zealand Certificates in English Language (NZCEL) qualifications are intended for learners of English as an additional language. These qualifications are available to all parts of the English language sector: secondary, tertiary, community, and for permanent and temporary residents, and international students.

NZCEL guiding document

An NZCEL Guiding Document (PDF, 624KB) to support programme designers, teachers and assessors of NZCEL qualifications is now available.

Guidance includes:

  • NZCEL pathways
  • conditions related to the assessment of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills
  • sufficiency statements to indicate text type, text length and vocabulary level
  • language skill and control descriptors for each NZCEL qualification level
  • types of discourse for academic, general and employment contexts
  • relevant website links e.g. English Language descriptors / frameworks.

Programme approval

Existing programme developers

All education organisations with approved programmes leading to the existing English Language qualifications will need to review their own programmes to evaluate alignment with the reviewed English Language qualifications.

All programmes need to clearly map to the graduate profile outcomes of each qualification. If the mapping requires any change to an existing programme, the education organisations will need to refer to the NZQA Guidelines (for applying for approval of programmes leading to New Zealand qualifications at Levels 1-6 on the NZQF and the accreditation of organisations to provide approved programmes) to determine the nature of the change/s, and make the appropriate application to NZQA. This may be a programme change or a new programme application.

New programme developers

Any education organisation wishing to develop a programme leading to any of the Certificate in English Language suite of qualifications must apply through the usual application process using their education online profile and following the NZQA Guidelines.

Unit standards to align to the NZCEL

English Language standards:

English Language unit standards are being reviewed to align to the graduate profile outcomes of the NZCEL from Foundation to level 4. More information on the review can be accessed at Review of English Language unit standards.

Unit standards may be incorporated into programmes of study by organisations with consent to assess to use as assessment evidence towards the achievement of qualification outcomes. They may be used to assess parts or all of the qualification outcomes.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) standards:

Level 4 EAP standards are mandatory for NZCEL (Academic) (Level 4). These standards have been reviewed and the new versions are now available at English for Academic Purposes.

Information regarding review and development of EAP standards is available at:


If you wish to receive email updates, and/or make contact regarding the NZCEL qualifications, English Language or English for Academic Purposes unit standards, please email

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