Support of an Equitable Course Prefix in Lieu of ESL

Resolution Number
Assigned to

Whereas, The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has affirmed its commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility through numerous resolutions and
resources that prioritize inclusive and affirming practices that recognize and help remove deficit-minded language, policies, and practices;

Whereas, The terms “English as a Second Language” and “ESL” portray multilingual students through a deficit lens, highlights their perceived lack of proficiency in English language skills, ignores that students often already speak several languages before learning English, results in the development of negative stereotypes and biases against them, and contributes to their stigmatization;

Whereas, Current scholarship in second language teaching [1], along with an increasing number of community colleges and universities in California such as Fresno City College, Ventura College, Santa Ana College, Los Medanos College, Bakersfield College, Santa Rosa Junior College, University of California Davis, University of California Irvine, University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of San Francisco, have adopted more equitable terminology; and

Whereas, AB 1111 (Berman, 2021) [2] may force these institutions to revert to the use of the stigmatized terms English as a Second Language and ESL for transfer-level courses;
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with discipline experts to adopt more equitable terms in lieu of English as a Second Language and ESL.


1. For instance, TESOL Quarterly, the leading academic journal in second language teaching, no longer uses the term ESL and instead uses ‘multilingual students’. See sample articles here:
Furthermore, a growing number of publications in second language teaching and learning have transitioned to the use of the term ‘Multilingual’ instead of ‘ESL’. See examples here:,5
2. AB 1111 (Berman, 2021):