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Shailaja Menon

Email: [email protected]

Shailaja's area of research and teaching is Language and Literacy. She has been leading Bilingual Education and English as a Second Language programs at Jones International University in the United States for the past two years. Prior to that, she taught at the University of Colorado in the United States for five years.

Shailaja has worked for important national reserch centres in the United States, such as the Centre for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement at the University of Michigan, and the Centre on Personnel Studies in Special Education at the University of Florida. She has served as an advisor and reviewer for the Colorado Reading Directorate, the quality-monitoring arm of the Colorado Department of Education for literacy instruction. Currently, she serves as a literacy consultant for the Sri Ratan Tata Trust. She is also associated as a visiting faculty with the M.A. program in Elementary Education at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Shailaja has her doctorate degree in language, literacy and learning disabilities from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and degrees in human development and psychology from MSU, Baroda, and Delhi University, respectively.

Academic Qualifications

Ph.D. (Literacy, Language & Learning Disabilities)
M.Sc. (Human Development & Family Studies)
B.A. (Psychology)

Areas of Interest

How children learn to read and write in Indian languages
How teachers learn to teach literacy
Langauge and diversity in multilingual Higher Educational settings

Teaching areas

Courses in Literacy Education
Courses in Human Development


Shailaja is currently working on two research projects.

1. Literacy Research in Indian Languages (LiRIL):
The LiRIL project is undertaking foundational longitudinal research on children's acquisition of reading and writing two different Indian languages - Kannada and Marathi. Most of the research related to early literacy has been generated in Western, English-speaking contexts. English uses an alphabetic script that differs considerably from the alphasyllabic or semisyllabic scripts used in most Indian languages.

The LiRIL project is designed to address this large gap in our understanding. It uses a sociocognitive framework and both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to generate a rich and detailed understanding of how children acquire literacy (reading and writing) in Kannada and Marathi as they move from Grade 1-5. Instructional contexts are also being studied carefully in this project. Detailed reading and writing assessments have been developed in each of these languages.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with Sri Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) and its partner sites, Kallike (Yaadgir, Karnataka) and QUEST (Sonale, Maharashtra).

2. Critical Language Practices (CLaP):
India is a richly mulitlingual nation with several thousand languages and dialects. Of these, at least 122 languages have more than 10,000 speakers each. Yet, only 18 of these languages show up as instructional media at institutions of higher education. English is the predominant langauge for transacting content at institutions of higher education in India. This significantly disadvantages large numbers of Indian students who wish to access higher education. The CLaP project, conducted in collaborat ion with Dr. Vanmala Vishwanath (APU) and Ms. Jane Sahi (APU), is an attempt to systematically examine issues of diversity and language at our university. It uses an ecological and critical lens to understand language and language issues. It is in its conceptual phase at present.

Publications and Writings
  • Menon, S. (2010). The generalizability of the TExT Model to Indic languages. Paper prepared for TExTProject.
  • Menon, S. (2010). Children's Literature in the West: An Overview. Paper prepared for Eklavya, Bhopal, India.
  • Menon, S., & Hiebert, E.H., (2010). Instructional texts and the fluency of learning disabled readers. In R. Allington & A. McGill-Franzen (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Disability Research (pp. 57-67), NY: Longman/Taylor & Francis.
  • Menon, S., & Hiebert, E. H. (2005). A comparison of first-graders' reading acquisition with little books or literature anthologies. Reading Research Quarterly, 40(1), 12 - 38.
  • Hiebert, E. H., Martin, L. A., & Menon, S. (2005). Are there alternatives in reading textbooks? An examination of three beginning reading programs. Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 21, 32.
  • Kaur, B., Menon, S., & Konantambigi, R. (2001). Childhood and adolescent development research. In J. Pandey (Ed.), Psychology in India Revisited: Developments in the Discipline (pp. 163-227). New Delhi: Sage Publications
  • Menon, S., & Hiebert, E. H. (1999). Literature anthologies: the task for first-grade readers. (Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, Report # 1-009). Ann Arbor: CIERA/University of Michigan.
Shailaja Menon Faculty At Azim Premji University

Shailaja Menon Faculty At Azim Premji University


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