How to talk about people whose mother tongue isn't English? Is there an equivalent of the French expressions "non-francophone" or "non-anglophone"?

  • 5
    A "non-native English speaker". As opposed to a "native English speaker".
    – None
    Mar 3, 2014 at 13:24
  • @Laure I can't tell for sure, but I feel OP expected something shorter... I'd like to learn shorter form too, if it exists :) Mar 3, 2014 at 13:26
  • 1
    @Łukasz웃Lツ: the word "anglophone" exists but it's more usual to say native/non-native. "English speaker" is not necessary if it is obvious from context that English is the language under discussion.
    – None
    Mar 3, 2014 at 13:31
  • 1
    Well, some people might say English language learner :-) Or just learner.
    – user230
    Mar 3, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    @snailplane: I appreciate the pun, but the implication that anyone whose first language wasn't English will forever be a learner I can only accept in the sense that everybody keeps learning their whole life. And in that case, there is no distinction between native and non-native speakers anymore :)
    – oerkelens
    Mar 3, 2014 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


In English, it is as simple as saying someone is a "non-native English speaker," or saying that English is not their primary language. Sometimes they are called ESL-Learners, which means "English as a Second Language Learners."

There is not really a name or term for people whose primary language is not English; you basically just say they do not speak English as their first language.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .