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Is 'Non-native English Speaker' an Offensive term?

For some, it is.

If English isn’t your first language, do you get offended if someone calls you a “non-native English speaker”? Is “non-native English speaker” a derogatory term? Some teachers think it is. I believe it’s not.

I define myself as a non-native speaker of English all the time. To me, this is just a descriptive statement based on pure factual basis: English is not my first language. 

I made a YouTube video asking my audience, composed mainly of non-native English speakers, if they feel discriminated against when referred to as such.

A dozen people replied saying they’re okay with the term. Only one said, “Not offensive, but for some reason, I feel like it’s not the term I want to use for myself or others.”

Some colleagues suggested “better” terms like “bilingual,” “multilingual,” “second-language English speakers,” or “international speakers.”

Yes, those can work, too.

So, what am I not seeing?

Fabio Cerpelloni is an English language teacher, writer, author, and podcaster from Italy. You can find out more about him and his work by clicking on his glass of beer in the photo.