Teaching of Systemic Functional Linguistics:
North America


Carleton University

School of Linguistics and Language Studies

Dr. Lynne Young (semi retired)
Dr. Guillaume Gentil (Associate Professor)
Dr. Jaffer Sheyholislami (Associate Professor)

Lynne Young has taught the course Systemic Functional Grammar and the SFL informed Critical Discourse Analysis courses for over a decade. She is the author of Language of Behaviour, Language as Code (John Benjamin, 1990), The Power of Language: How Discourse Influences Society (Equinox, 2006), Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis: Studies in Social Change (Continuum, 2004), and Expository Discourse: A Genre Based Approach to Social Science Text (Continuum, 2001). Following Dr. Young’s retirement, two of her colleagues will be teaching the SFL and CDA courses, Dr. Guillaume Gentil and Dr. Jaffer Sheyholislami.

Glendon College, York University, Toronto

Department of English

Jim Benson (semi-retired)
Bill Greaves (semi-retired)
Michael Cummings (semi-retired)

Glendon College has been one of the world centres of SFL, and the main base in North America. Michael Gregory was a major developer of SFL theory, especially in the area of register, phasal analysis, etc. He retired in 1997, and passed away soon after.

Jim Benson, Bill Greaves and Michael Cummings are all major Systemicists. As of July 2006, all three will be 'retired'. However all three will be teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Relevant courses for 2007-2008 are given below:

Graduate Courses

  • Stylistics: Course Code: EN 6850 6.0 A. Runs: Sept. 2007-April 2008. Teacher: William Greaves, greaves@glendon.yorku.ca.
    This course uses functional linguistics and acoustic phonetics to explore the ways that literary texts, especially poetic texts, achieve their meanings through relationships between cultural context, semantics, lexicogrammar, and various sound patterns.
  • Systemic Functional Linguistics: Course Code: EN 6852 6.0 A. Runs: Sept. 2007-April 2008. Teacher: James Benson, jbenson@gl.yorku.ca
    The course is both an introduction to the theory of SFL, and a demonstration of its utility in interpreting both literary and non-literary texts, and in addressing broader questions, such how language relates to context, and how language evolved.
Undergraduate Courses

  • Literary Stylistics: Course Code: GL EN 3607 6.0 A. Runs: Sept. 2007-April 2008. Teacher: William Greaves, greaves@glendon.yorku.ca.
    The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of stylistics. The application of linguistic theory to the study of literary texts will be investigated. Normally the first term will concentrate on the study of poetry, while in the second term, prose texts will be considered.
  • Functional Linguistics: Course Code: GL EN 4607 6.0 A. Runs: Sept. 2007-April 2008. Teacher: James Benson, jbenson@gl.yorku.ca
    This course will present the theory of functional linguistics developed by Michael Halliday. From context of situation to medium of expression: semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology and phonetics as the symbolic chain through which we produce meaningful sounds to carry on life in our various social contexts.
Supervision of Ph.D.s

Benson, Greaves and Cumming are all available to supervise Ph.D.s in SFL. Their topics of expertise are:

  • James Benson: Discourse, Human/Animal Communication
  • Michael Cummings: Discourse, Old English
  • William Greaves: Discourse, Human/Animal Communication, Stylistics, Phonetics & Phonology

Saint Mary's University, Halifax

Elissa Asp (Chair of English)

EA: I teach undergraduate courses in Modern English (one semester, introductory level) Discourse Analysis (year long, upper level course) Language, Gender and Power (half course, upper level).

I also teach courses on the The Development of English Prose Style from 1500 (one semester, intro) The History of English (year long, upper level) Language and Gender (one semester, intro) which have considerable S-F content. And I supervise directed readings and theses in s-f frameworks. Since it's me, students are obviously getting a mix of stuff from a variety of frameworks including my own: I've written the core descriptive framework that I use in all courses (including a roughed-in grammar for Early Modern English. This work is explicitly functional, but lexicalist and syntagmatic in orientation. I use systems in local environments where appropriate and as summaries of relationships like speech function options. That's probably more info than you need. But let me add that I am more than willing to act as a supervisor/reader/external for graduate students if anybody has need and my background seems appropriate. Even the most sophisticated undergraduate students are not stimulating in the way that graduate students can be.


Elissa Asp,
Chair of English,
Saint Mary's University,
Halifax, Nova Scotia
e-mail: elissa.asp@stmarys.ca

Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Department of Linguistics

Maite Taboada (mtaboada@sfu.ca)

Maite teaches a course in Discourse Analysis (Ling 480) (details here). The course provides an introduction to the analysis of discourse and dialogue, and an overview of the phenomena included in the study of discourse and dialogue, from linguistic, psycholinguistic and computational points of view. Next scheduled for September 2008.

Maite is also available to supervise doctoral students, her specialisations being: discourse analysis, computational linguistics, theories of reference, cohesion, Rhetorical Structure Theory, Appraisal, Spanish.

University of British Columbia

Department of English

Dr Jessica De Villiers
Dr Janet Giltrow

Department of Language & Literacy Education

There may be some SFL in the courses here (Geoff Williams was Chair of this department for some years).

University of Victoria, British Columbia

Gordon Fulton (fulton@uvvm.bitnet)

University of Waterloo, Ontario

Glenn Stillar

 Description: Glenn Stillar is been in the English Department. The undergraduate programme has two streams--a 'traditional' literary stream (students must take two linguistics courses) and a rhetoric and professional writing stream (same linguistics requirements, but more 'language' courses involved). Also, there is an M.A. and Ph.D. programme in language and professional writing. When GS came, there was no SFL or related theory activity. Since then, he has spent most of his time teaching versions of social-functional language description. Not 'purely' SFL because it combines many strands (Firthian, Whorfian, Gregorian, Hallidayan, Martinique, Lemkean, Stillarian, and so on--whatever works).


Carnegie Mellon, Pitsburgh

Mariana Achugar, (Discourse Analysis- Spanish)

Central Michigan University

Bill Spruiell

Peter Fries, a major Systemicist who developed much of the area of Theme, taught here until 2004, but is now retired. One of the current staff, Bill Spruiell, is very much influenced by SFL and sympathetic to SFL concerns. He used IFG for the graduate grammar class he teaches every other year. However, none of the courses (other than an occasional special topics course) is devoted specifically to SFL. The CMU program is specifically a MA in TESOL. They have no PhD program in English.

 Course Description: http://www.cst.cmich.edu/units/eng/.

Georgetown University, Washington,D.C.

Heidi Byrnes

Heidi teaches Language Education with an SFL perspective within the German Department.

Iowa State University

English Department
Tammy Slater

(2012) Tammy Slater teaches a seminar for graduate students on SFL analysis.

Mansfield University

Linda Rashidi (lrashidi@mnsfld.edu) 

LR will be teaching English Grammar Fall semester (2000) at Mansfield University  using Bloor and Bloor as the main text.

Marshall University, West Virginia

English Department

Dr. Hong, Hyo-Chang/Bob (hong@marshall.edu)

Dr. Hong teaches an SFL course:

  • Text Analysis: an SFL Survey course focusing on LG and discourse analysis (currently 1st semester, but soon to be every semester).
Dr Hong is available to supervise Ph.D. students, his area of interest is: Old English Discourse Analysis, with special interest in genres in Old English, and their lexico-grammatical realization.

Purdue University

Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction

Dr. Beverly Cox
Dr. Luciana C. de Oliveira (luciana@purdue.edu)

The Literacy & Language program at Purdue offers various graduate degree programs: MSEd, EdS, and PhD. Some of the courses with SFL content include:

  • Language Study for Educators (EDCI 526) (Taught by: de Oliveira): intended to heighten students' appreciation of the workings of language as a tool for communicating, thinking, and learning by both teachers and learners. This course will provide students with current information about central concepts and terms derived from functional linguistics. These provide essential tools for educators to analyze language in systematic ways. Participants will develop a set of functional linguistic tools and strategies for seeing how meaning is constructed in different types of texts. We will examine five discourse-dependent systems in language that help us see language from different perspectives:
    • Appraisal, constructing attitudes and evaluation;
    • Ideation, constructing "content";
    • Conjunction, constructing the logic;
    • Identification, tracking participants;
    • Periodicity, constructing the flow of information (Martin and Rose, 2003).
    Course Texts: Martin and Rose 'Working with discourse'; Schleppegrell 'The Language of Schooling: A functional linguistics perspective'
  • Seminar in Literacy: The Development of Academic Language in the Content Areas (EDCI 612) (Taught by: de Oliveira): Focuses on issues that influence the development of academic language by diverse students, especially second language learners. Participants will learn to describe how language varies in the way it presents knowledge in different content areas. We will identify the challenges of academic language for different kinds of students in different content areas, with a special focus on the linguistic challenges faced by learners of English as a second language at the secondary level. The focus of the seminar will be “advanced literacy” contexts, or the kinds of meaning-making typical of secondary and postsecondary education. The seminar is intended for graduate students who wish to have a better understanding of the linguistic challenges of academic language for diverse students in the content areas of science, language arts, mathematics, and the social studies. Texts: Schleppegrell: The Language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective; Schleppegrell and Colombi: Developing advanced literacy in first and second languages: Meaning with power.
Beverly Cox says: "Like some others I am not sure what qualifies as teaching courses in SFG but I do include it in my courses at Purdue in Language and Literacy for graduate students. We also have a small group of graduate students who are interested in u sing it in their research. I am just finishing a course in Emergent Literacy which has had a pretty good dose of SFG and I always touch on it in Foundations of Literacy, as well. I have also included it in our seminar on home, school and culture interfaces related to language/literacy."

University of California: Davis

Spanish Department

Maria Cecilia Colombi (Associate Professor, Designated Emphasis on SLA, chair)

Cecilia Colombi regularly teaches graduate courses on SFG in Spanish in the department.


Maria Cecilia Colombi
Spanish Department
University of California
Davis,Ca 95616
fax: 530-752-2184
wk.  530-752-1244

University of Florida

Zhihui Fang (College of Education)  (zfang@coe.ufl.edu)
Prof. Fang teaches some courses at undergraduate and graduate levels with primarily SFL content, including:
  • Academic Writing;
  • Discourse Analysis for Literacy Research and Instruction;
  • Content Area Reading;
  • Emergent Literacy;

For the course in Content Area Reading, he uses a newly released book:

Fang, Z., & Schleppegrell, M. J. (2008). Reading in Secondary Content Areas: A Language-Based Pedagogy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

The book shows middle and secondary school teachers of science, history, mathematics, and language arts how to use functional grammar analysis to talk with students about texts.

Prof. Fang is available for supervision of Masters and Doctoral students in SFL topics. His research specialties include: emergent literacy, content area literacy.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Christine Pappas [education]
Adam Makkai

 Christine Pappas teaches some Systemics in the Dept. of Education.

 Adam Makkai has been teaching Systemic Functionalism TOGETHER WITH Stratificational Grammar ala Lamb, as Halliday and Lamb have always agreed on most things. To this he adds Tagmemics a la Pike, He calls himself an ECOLINGUIST.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Department of Communicative Disorders

Dr. Nicole Müller
Dr. Martin J. Ball

The Dept. of Communicative Disorders at UL Lafayette houses a lively PhD Program in Applied Language and Speech Sciences (speechandlanguage.louisiana.edu/programs/phd.shtml) . Both Nicole Müller and Martin J. Ball are available as dissertation directors to students who are interested in applying SFL to texts produced by persons with impairments of language, speech, or cognition. Our topics of exertise and interest are:

  • Nicole Müller: Discourse, bilingualism, dementia, acquired language and communication disorders
  • Martin J Ball: Discourse, phonetics / phonology, prosody, sociolinguistics

A recent such dissertation investigated conversational interaction in dysarthria and cognitive impairment consequent to PML; a current project analyzes the construction of interpersonal relations between residents in an assisted living facility for persons with dementia. In the near future, a further study will begin to investigate the linguistic construction of identities by persons with traumatic brain injury.

If you are interested in the PhD Program, please contact either Nicole Müller or Martin J. Ball.

Graduate Course: CODI 605 (Clinical Linguistics): This course introduces students to SFL and applies it to texts produced by persons with language and communication disorders of various etiologies, for example dementia, aphasia, dysarthria, children with language delay or disorder. Instructor: Nicole Müller

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Mary Schleppegrell (School of Education)

Mary Schleppegrell teaches introductory SFL courses at the graduate level for MA and Ph.D. students, and mentors students using SFL in their research.