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Tianxiang (Shawn) Chen

New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Level 5)

Master of Applied Management



Tianxiang (Shawn) Chen didn’t realise how much he was learning in his New Zealand Certificate in English Language programme until he began his master’s study.

He’s now putting everything he learned about academic writing and critical thinking to use in his master’s degree.

Thanks to his English studies, he now knows how to look at things from different perspectives, make an unbiased analysis, and evaluate evidence.

“I don’t think NZCEL and master’s are too different. It’s a different level but the topic and the thinking are totally the same. Both of them are about critical thinking.”

Completing NZCEL has also given him a head start on understanding the rules of academic writing. He says students going straight into the master’s degree can be confused by those rules initially.

“I totally know the rules of APA so it’s easier for me.”

Shawn says he loved the context behind his NZCEL studies. His lecturers selected excellent resources which connected to his life and local and global issues.

He has advice for other students beginning their English studies: “My suggestion is, give up your mother tongue and totally dip into the local language environment.”

Making friends from other countries would help with that, he says.  

“Make mistakes. If you’re always trying to protect yourself, your teachers can’t find your mistakes and modify them. So, practice making mistakes.”

Shawn says English language study can be particularly hard for Chinese students because the English language system is so different from their own.

“Even now I make lots of mistakes, but I don’t care. I can speak two languages, I’m proud of that,” he says.

Prior to coming to New Zealand, Shawn worked for pharmaceutical companies in China.

He hopes to finish his master’s qualification by the end of the year then return home to see his wife and young son who has changed a lot in the time they’ve been separated due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“I was joking to my classmates that after I go back my son would introduce his wife to me.”

Shawn hopes he’ll later be able to return to New Zealand with his family and look for opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector here.

Read more about our New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Level 5).