In many countries the question is posed — should school instruction be delivered in the pupils mother tongue (l1) or in another language (L2)? Cognitive problems may be aggravated or ameliorated by emotional or motivational tones. A frequently used strategy has been to impose the majority L2 on minority L1 speakers, sometimes with mass failure results. Even if L1 is acceptable, serious retardation in the development of literacy occurs when the initial instruction is delivered in L2. Even with strong positive motivation towards learning L2, literacy instruction in L2 still causes cognitive confusion. Less commonly initial literacy instruction is delivered in the pupils L1 even though the goal is literacy in L2. This avoids cognitive confusion, but if the L1 speakers have adopted negative attitudes to their own language the strategy does not survive. Rarer still is the strategy to deliver instruction part of the day in L1 and part in L2; little research evidence is available on this approach but indications are favorable.