Profiles | 8 April 2022

Undergrad Profile: Dylan Reinders


Dylan Reinders studies Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism at UC Santa Cruz. Reinders’s research project “Compare and Contrast of Inclusivity in ESL Education in Various Metropolitan Areas Across the United States” explores how both students and teachers in English as Second Language courses think about and respond to inclusivity in the classroom.

We were able to speak with Reinder about his ongoing research on ESL classes and inclusivity. Reinder was a 2021-22 THI Undergraduate Research Fellow and is at work now analyzing his research.

Hi Dylan! Thank you so much for chatting with us about your research. To kick us off, can you give us a general overview of the research you conducted as a THI Undergraduate Research Fellow?

Map showing where Reinder’s conducted his interviews and research.

Hello! A good general overview of what I did for this project in terms of research really involves the interviews that I conducted with numerous ESL teachers in the United States. For example, I conducted interviews with ESL teachers from Texas, California, and New York to name a few, and I found that the answers to some of these questions were not unanimously found.

I also of course conducted more traditional research-looking over articles and previous research on what we, being the ESL industry, already know about the topic. 

I found, however, that the most significant part of this project’s research was really just synthesizing the 2 main parts of the project, allowing me to take more quantitative research with something more qualitative, and mix the 2 together to get a more concise and accurate result.

This sounds like very interesting and important research! According to the people you interviewed, what factors were most significant in cultivating an atmosphere of inclusivity in ESL classes?

The bottom line is, when people are respected, they learn better, and having a learning environment that cultivates respect and tolerance through an open-mind, then you will in turn cultivate inclusivity.

In my personal experience, which coincidentally aligns with my initial findings, making sure that your students are respected is the first and foremost important aspect in cultivating inclusivity. What that means, however, seems to be up for debate depending on who you ask. 

Some people argue that inclusivity solely relies on cultural tolerance, however, among others there is a consensus that there are indeed other factors that contribute to an inclusive learning atmosphere, such as confirmation of gender identity. 

The bottom line is, when people are respected, they learn better, and having a learning environment that cultivates respect and tolerance through an open-mind, then you will in turn cultivate inclusivity. 

In your interviews, how did teachers and students explain what inclusivity in ESL classes meant to them? Why is inclusivity in the classroom so important for the success of English-language learners? 

My interviews typically had a large range of answers, therefore, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly the meaning of inclusivity in ESL classes in the United States as a whole. 

However, I have found that a general consensus of respect for culture and identity seem to be prevailing themes. I think that overall, this makes inclusivity important for English language learners, as it allows them to learn in a space that is both respectful and comfortable, 2 factors that, when absent, create a learning environment that is overall ineffective and sometimes even harmful to the learning process. 

How did support from THI help advance your research project?

The support from THI allowed me to take on more responsibilities that encompassed the project, as opposed to spending time teaching, for example. This freed up time allowed me to really hone in on my research and produce something to the best of my ability.