Geoff Williams

Dr. Geoff Williams

Professor Emeritus


Professor Williams was Professor and Head of LLED from Sep 2005 – August 2010. He is now an Honorary Professor of Education at the University of Sydney. He previously held tenured positions in the Faculties of Education and Arts, University of Sydney, and has recently been a regular Academic Visitor to universities in Hong Kong.

His primary research interests are in educational linguistics and systemic functional linguistic theory. He is a past Chair of both the Australian and the International Systemic Functional Linguistics Associations.

After gaining the University Medal for his MA thesis at the University of Sydney, he wrote his PhD in Linguistics at Macquarie University, supervised by Professor Ruqaiya Hasan, focussing on children learning to talk about texts in contrasting family social positions. This work involved use of semantic networks for discourse analysis, and a theoretical consideration of semantic variation (as contrasted with dialectal and register variation).

His current research extends this interest into the healthcare communication field, in a project investigating clinician-patient communication about melanoma across patient social class differences. The long-term aim of this research is to improve training for clinicians in interaction with patients from lower working class backgrounds.

Professor Williams has also been deeply interested in children learning to use systemic functional grammar to reflect on texts as an aspect of their literacy development. He conducted the first projects internationally in this field, collaborating with Drs Ruth French and Joan Rothery. More recently he has been exploring possibilities for ‘reflection literacy’ (Hasan 2011) in very early primary school literacy education. He is the co-editor with Ruqaiya Hasan of Literacy in Society (Longman) and, with Annabelle Lukin, of The development of language (Continuum).