Dr Sonali Nag

I am Associate Professor of Education and the Developing Child and Fellow of Brasenose College.

My interest in children’s typical and atypical development began with my MPhil at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS, India).  Following my MPhil, I co-established the Consultant Psychologists Group and a Special Needs Center offering assessment, counselling and remedial support for children manifesting difficulties in school.  I also began work in the Indian charity, The Promise Foundation, focusing on early childhood and primary school programmes for children in poverty.  I remain an Honorary member of the Foundation.  My PhD at the University of Portsmouth (UK) examined the impact of two interventions on literacy outcomes among multilingual children. In 2004, I began exploring the cognitive bases of learning to read in the Indic writing system of South Asia and as a Newton Fellow of the Royal Society and British Academy began the Children Learning to Read project in India in 2009. I curate a unique web resource—Lingua Akshara—for researchers, clinicians and teachers working in South and Southeast Asian languages. More recently, I have focused on a rigorous review of the developing countries literature on language and literacy learning, cultural sensitivity of early grades programmes and the abiding influence of home environments and classroom practices (2013-2016). I moved to Oxford in 2017.

I would welcome informal contacts from prospective doctoral students interested in the following topics:

  • Literacy and language development (especially in biscriptal and multilingual contexts)
  • Intervention research (especially exploring culturally-embedded methodologies)
  • Home and class environments (especially in vulnerable and marginalised contexts)
  • Transitions in and out of school (with a focus on children with special needs)
  • Education systems in Asia (especially South and Southeast Asia)
  • Child mental health (with a focus on initiatives within schools)


My research is concerned with literacy and language development.  I am interested in the processes that support the journey from being a novice to an expert user of written language, and more generally, in the relationship between writing systems and learning. I also examine what works when children struggle with learning, using both cognitive-linguistic and cultural frameworks for analysis.


  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • Brasenose College


  • Associate Professor of Education and the Developing Child

Subject area

  • MSc Education (Child Development and Education)

Research groups

  • Children Learning