L1 Education in Times of Globalization, Digitalization and Super-Diversity

A Plea for an International Comparative Empirical-Interpretive Approach


  • Sjaak Kroon Tilburg University
  • Massimiliano Spotti Tilburg University




comparative education, L1 education, classroom ethnography, triangulation, professional practical knowledge


This introduction first briefly sketches the (history of the) International Mother Tongue Education Network (IMEN). IMEN was founded in 1981 as an information and research network that over the years initiated an empirical-interpretive research program focusing on comparative analyses of the rhetoric and practices of L1 education across a dozen of European countries. Main elements of IMEN’s methodology that will be discussed below were the development of different types of research collaboration,  a theoretical framework for comparative analysis, and  a method for international triangulation. It then describes how, at the turn of the century, IMEN’s way of doing slow science became increasingly threatened by the requirements of publish or perish mainstream research, and how its research program was confronted with the challenges posed to L1 education by processes of globalization, digitalization, and super-diversity, becoming manifest in the superdiverse nature of student bodies, their sociolinguistic and ethnocultural doings, and the increasingly digitalized modes of teaching and learning they are exposed to. All these elements, in one way or another, also have an impact on the teaching-learning practices in mainstream L1 education and consequently must be addressed by IMEN-like studies. Finally this contribution briefly introduces the contributions to this special issue and suggests that they are a strong argument for a renewed interest in international comparative discussion on and around L1 education and a plea to further collaborative research from an empirical interpretive ethnographic perspective on teachers’ professional practical knowledge and classroom practices that can guide our understanding of the ubiquitous school subject L1 education that aims at preparing students for a global, digital, and super-diverse society.




How to Cite

Kroon, S., & Spotti, M. (2024). L1 Education in Times of Globalization, Digitalization and Super-Diversity: A Plea for an International Comparative Empirical-Interpretive Approach. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 24(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.21248/l1esll.2024.24.2.673