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.


  • Nag, S (2010) A handbook about early learning for teachers. Bangalore: Jointly published by IBM India Ltd and The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S, Abrol, U (2006) Handbook on prevention of child labour for Anganwadi workers. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2006) Handbook on prevention of child labour for village community workers. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.

  • Arulmani, G, Nag-Arulmani, S (2004) Career counselling: a handbook. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill.

Book chapters

  • Nag, S (2017) “The Akshara languages of South Asia: literacy acquisition and development”, In: C Perfetti, L Verhoeven (eds.) Learning to read across languages and writing systems: an international handbook. Cambridge University Press.

  • Nag, S (2017) “Learning to read alphasyllabaries”, In: K Cain, D Compton, R Parrila (eds.) Theories of reading development. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 75-98

  • Vagh, SB, Nag, S, Banerjee, R (2017) “India: The policy and practice of early literacy acquisition in the akshara languages.”, In: N Kucirkova, C Snow, V Grover, C McBride (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook of Early Literacy Education: A Contemporary Guide to Literacy Teaching and Interventions in a Global Context.. Routledge. 233-246

  • Nag, S (2014) “Special educational needs, social cognitive environments and preparing for the world of work”, In: G Arulmani, A Bakshi, F Leong, AG Watts (eds.) Handbook of Career Development International Perspectives. New York: Springer Science & Business Media. 497-512

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ (2013) “Children’s reading development: learning about sounds, symbols and cross-modal mappings”, In: BR Kar (ed.) Cognition and brain development: converging evidence from various methodologies. Washington, DC: APA. 253-270

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ (2012) “School underachievement and specific learning difficulties”, In: IACAPAP textbook of child and adolescent psychiatry.. Geneva: International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.

  • Nag, S (2011) “The akshara languages: what do they tell us about children’s literacy learning?”, In: R Mishra, N Srinivasan (eds.) Language-cognition: state of the art. Germany: Lincom Publishers. 291-310

  • Sircar, S, Nag, S (2011) “Akshara–syllable mappings in bengali: A language-specific skill for reading”, In: South and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics. 202-211
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139084642.023

  • Nag, S (2003) “Reading difficulties in the Indian languages”, In: Dyslexia: a cross linguistic perspective. London: Whurr Publishers. 235-254

  • Arulmani, G, Nag-Arulmani, S (2001) “The child in the community: multiple dimensions to disadvantage”, In: G Mohan Kumar, A Umapathy, S Bhogle (eds.) Readings in child development. Bangalore: Prasaranga Publishers.

  • Nag, S (1996) “Students with specific learning disability in the new English curriculum”, In: R Mathew, RL Eapen (eds.) The language curriculum: dynamics of change. Hyderabad: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL).

Conference papers

  • Nag, S (2017) Annual Conference of the Association for Reading and Writing in Asia (ARWA). Keynote. (Education University, Hong Kong)

  • NAG, S (2017) Literacy in multilingual India. (New Delhi) Room to Read.

  • NAG, S (2016) Oral language and learning to read.

  • NAG, S (2016) On literacy learning: some old and some new constructs..

  • Nag, S (2012) Multiple pathways to literacy: findings from two longitudinal studies. Keynote. (Bangalore, India)

Journal articles

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ, Mirkovic, J (2018) “The role of language production mechanisms in children's sentence repetition: Evidence from an inflectionally rich language”, APPLIED PSYCHOLINGUISTICS. 39(2) 303-325.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716417000200

  • Wijaythilake, MADK, Parrila, R, Inoue, T, NAG, S (2018) “Instruction matters to the development of phoneme awareness and its relationship to akshara knowledge and word reading: Evidence from Sinhala.”, Scientific Studies of Reading.

  • Wijaythilake, MADK, Parrila, R, Inoue, T, Nag, S (2018) “Instruction Matters to the Development of Phoneme Awareness and Its Relationship to Akshara Knowledge and Word Reading: Evidence from Sinhala”, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF READING. 22(5) 420-433.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2018.1466890

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ, Asfaha, YM (2016) “Classroom literacy practices in low- and middle-income countries: an interpretative synthesis of ethnographic studies”, OXFORD REVIEW OF EDUCATION. 42(1) 36-54.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2015.1135115

  • Moll, K, Hulme, C, Nag, S, Snowling, MJ (2015) “Sentence repetition as a marker of language skills in children with dyslexia”, APPLIED PSYCHOLINGUISTICS. 36(2) 203-221.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716413000209

  • Aravind, S, Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2015) “A learning skills approach to the career assessment of individuals with dyslexia”, Career Planning & Adult Development Journal. 31(4) 162-171.

  • Nag, S (2014) “Alphabetism and the science of reading: from the perspective of the akshara languages.”, Frontiers in psychology. 5 866+.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00866

  • Nag, S, Snowling, M, Quinlan, P, Hulme, C (2014) “Child and Symbol Factors in Learning to Read a Visually Complex Writing System”, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF READING. 18(5) 309-324.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2014.892489

  • Nag, S, Perfetti, CA (2014) “Reading and writing: Insights from the alphasyllabaries of south and southeast Asia”, Writing Systems Research. 6(1) 1-9.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/17586801.2014.883787

  • Nag, S (2014) “Akshara-phonology mappings: The common yet uncommon case of the consonant cluster”, Writing Systems Research. 6(1) 105-119.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/17586801.2013.855621

  • Nag, S (2014) “Transitions in the world of work”, Indian Journal of Career and Livelihood Planning. 3(1) 1-2.

  • Aravind, S, Nag, S (2013) “Exploring career assessment frameworks for children with learning disabilities”, Journal of the Indian Association for Career and Livelihood Planning. 2(1) 40-52.

  • Sircar, S, Nag, S (2013) “Children's intuitive syllabification of intervocalic consonant clusters in Bengali: the role of sonority, phonotactics and akshara”, The EFL Journal. 4(2) 35-52.

  • Nag, S (2013) “Low Literacy Attainments in School and Approaches to Diagnosis: An Exploratory Study”, Contemporary Education Dialogue. 10(2) 197-221.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/0973184913484997

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G, Bakshi, A (2012) “Career guidance and livelihood planning: challenge and opportunities”, Indian Journal of Career and Livelihood Planning. 1(1) 1-2.

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ (2012) “Reading in an Alphasyllabary: Implications for a Language Universal Theory of Learning to Read”, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES OF READING. 16(5) 404-423.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2011.576352

  • Nag, S, Snowling, M (2011) “Reading comprehension, decoding and oral language”, The EFLU Journal, English and Foreign Languages University. 2(2) 75-93.

  • Nag, S (2011) “Re-thinking support: the hidden school-to-work challenges for individuals with special needs”, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE. 11(2) 125-137.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10775-011-9203-6

  • Nag, S, Caravolas, M, Snowling, MJ (2011) “Beyond alphabetic processes: literacy and its acquisition in the alphasyllabic languages”, READING AND WRITING. 24(6) 615-622.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-010-9259-6

  • Nag, S, Snowling, MJ (2011) “Cognitive profiles of poor readers of Kannada”, READING AND WRITING. 24(6) 657-676.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-010-9258-7

  • Nag, S, Treiman, R, Snowling, MJ (2010) “Learning to spell in an alphasyllabary: The case of Kannada”, Writing Systems Research. 2(1) 41-52.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1093/wsr/wsq001

  • Nag, S (2009) “Inclusive classrooms for children with different language learning needs”, Learning Curve. 13(Special Issue on Language Learning) 43-45.

  • Nag, S (2007) “Early reading in Kannada: the pace of acquisition of orthographic knowledge and phonemic awareness”, JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN READING. 30(1) 7-22.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2006.00329.x

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2006) “Capacity building for career counselling”, Seminar. 563(Special Issue on Education and Livelihoods)

  • Nag, S (2006) “Literacy for all: chipping away at the ceiling”, NORRAG NEWS. 37(Special Issue on Educating and training out of poverty) 39-40.

  • Arulmani, SN (2004) “Is Remedial Education Going the Counselling Way?”, Contemporary Education Dialogue. 2(1) 129-132.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1177/097318490400200113

  • Nag-Arulmani, S, Reddy, V, Buckley, S (2003) “Targeting phonological representations can help in the early stages of reading in a non-dominant language”, Journal of Research in Reading. 26(1) 49-68.
    DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9817.261005

  • Nag, S, Rao, SL (1999) “Remediation of attention deficits in mild head injury”, Neurology India. 47(1) 32-39.

  • Nag-Arulmani, S, Rao, SL (1997) “Tests of attention”, Indian Journal of Clinical Psychology. 24(2) 167-170.


  • Nag, S (2016) Assessment of literacy and foundation learning in developing countries: final report. London: HEART series.

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2015) Needs analysis of eight schools under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (the Bangalore City Corporation): final report. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S, Chiat, S, Torgerson, C, Snowling, MJ (2014) Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries: final report. London: Department for International Development.

  • Nag, S (2010) “Children with reading difficulties”, In: 25 years of community service report of Seva-in-Action. Bangalore:

  • Nag, S, Sircar, S (2008) Learning to read in Bengali: report of a survey of five Kolkata primary schools. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2007) Chamarajanagar stories: reflections on language, literacy and learning. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation and National Institute of Advanced Studies.

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2006) Work Orientations and Responses to Career Choices: Indian Regional Survey (WORCC-IRS). Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.


  • Nag, S (2016) Symbols to concepts: children and the written word. Public lecture. 9th Typography Day (Annual Conference) held by Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai and Shrishti School of Design.

  • Nag, S (2016) Literacy learning environments and foundation skills. Public lecture. Held by J. P. Das Center on Developmental and Learning Disabilities and the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, Canada.

  • Nag, S, Personalised Learning Platform Foundation (2015) Language and literacy screeners for Kannada and Hindi early grades assessment.

  • Nag, S (2014) Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries. HEART series on Literacy, foundation learning and assessment in developing countries. YouTube video.

  • Nag, S (2014) Expressive Vocabulary Test – Hindi. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2014) Test of Akshara recognition – Hindi. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2013) Books Inside Out – multiple languages. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2013) An overview of literacy learning in the akshara languages. Public lecture. Held by the Education Research Group, R. V. Teacher Training College, Bangalore.

  • Nag, S (2013) Kannada padasampatti: age of acquisition ratings for children who are native speakers of Kannada. A research resource. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2012) The Akshara languages. Public lecture. Held by the Sutradhar Open Forum, Bangalore.

  • Nag, S (2012) Pre-pilot for a suite of language and literacy tests for EAL children in India.

  • Nag, S (2012) Literacy Acquisition Battery (LAB). Revised. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2012) Levels in Language and Literacy (LiLaLi). Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2010) Stimulation Intervention Programme: a pre-school curriculum for children from resource poor homes. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2010) Programmes for Assisted Learning: a supplementary language and literacy programme for children at risk for literacy difficulties in primary school. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2010) Learning to read: yesterday, today and tomorrow. Public lecture. Held by the Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg.

  • Nag, S (2009) Writing without the alphabet: insights into the sound-symbol linkages in different scripts. Public lecture. Held by the Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg.

  • Nag, S (2009) “Research: more than mere data collection”, Shillong Times.

  • Nag, S (2008) Kannada vocabulary test. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2007) Planning access for primary and secondary education: focus on access to ICT and quality teachers. Public lecture. Southern Regional Workshop on School Education by the National Knowledge Commission, Government of India.

  • Nag, S (2007) Akshara knowledge (Syllabograph test). Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2007) Collaborations for quality education: Who casts the die? Public lecture. Partners Roundtable for IBM Corporate-Community Relations projects in India by IBM International Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2007) Chili Pili Cheela: Kannada language activity cards for Grades 3 to 5. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation and National Institute for Advanced Studies.

  • Nag, S, Arulmani, G (2006) Child Development Index. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.

  • Nag, S (2006) “Supporting children’s reading: negotiating change in teaching literacy, Mid-project. Reflexive Essays”, Vidyankura: District Quality Education Project. Bangalore: National Institute of Advanced Studies.

  • Nag, S (2004) Basic Skills Tests (BST). Bangalore: Consultant Psychologists Group.

  • Nag-Arulmani, S (2003) Early Childhood Stimulation Kit: promoting skills for pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-numeracy skills. Bangalore: The Promise Foundation.

  • Nag, S (2002) “Special needs in the regular classroom”, Deccan Herald. Articulations(III)

  • Nag, S (2000) Cross-linguistic phonological battery. PhD. University of Portsmouth.

  • Nag-Arulmani, S (1990) Tests of attention. MPhil. National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences.


  • Department staff

College affiliation

  • Brasenose College


  • Associate Professor of Education and the Developing Child
  • Pathway Leader for MSc Education (Child Development and Education)

Subject area

  • MSc Education (Child Development and Education)

Research groups

  • Children Learning

Publications, books and other work