hands being raised to ask questions at a conference
2020 GRADNASFLA Symposium

Using SFL to Question and Challenge

October 24, 2020 - REMOTE FORMAT
School of Education University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Register now for the October 24 GRADNASFLA Symposium! Registration open until October 13, 2020!

Note: This symposium will now be held entirely ONLINE in a REMOTE format. We look forward to welcoming graduate students and scholars to this socially distant and safe collaborative event!.

The Symposium

The 2020 GRADNASFLA (Graduate North American Systemic Functional Linguistics Association) Symposium will be held at the University of Michigan School of Education in Ann Arbor, MI. The goal of the symposium is to bring together graduate students and other emerging researchers from across fields with an interest in using systemic functional linguistics (SFL) in research and applied practice. This year’s theme, “Using SFL to Question and Challenge,” highlights the potential for SFL analysis and work to unpack the power of discourse.

Language, as a socially constructed tool for meaning-making, can both construct and conceal power structures in social settings. SFL’s theory, functional grammar, and analytic approaches provide perspectives and tools that enable researchers to explore how “ideologies, identities, and power relations work in society and the ways in which language works to entrench and challenge those relations” (Hammond & Macken-Horarik, 1999, p. 529). In classroom contexts, SFL-based pedagogies also enable talk about meaning that helps students understand the ways they are being positioned by the texts they read (Moore & Schleppegrell, 2014).  As Halliday has pointed out, analysis of discourse that does not have a grounding in a social semiotic theory of language and a functional grammar is "simply a running commentary" (Halliday, 1985, p. xvii).

The symposium will run from 9 a.m. to approximately 5 p.m. with breaks and flexibility. The program consists of a keynote speaker, Luciana de Oliveira (Virginia Commonwealth University), two invited speakers, Charanjit Singh (Lyallpur Khalsa College) and Kevin J. Burke (University of Georgia), and paper and roundtable presentations from graduate students and early career professionals whose work incorporates SFL research methodology or applied practice in their field.

The keynote presentation is approximately 30 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. Invited speakers and paper presentations are 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. Roundtable discussions are 30 minutes to be used flexibly to discuss work-in-progress.

The program agenda for the symposium can be found here.

Registration for the Symposium will be available until October 13, 2020. Please register prior to that time. Zoom meeting information will be sent out to all registered participants by October 19, 2020.


Halliday, M. A. K. (1985). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Hammond, J., & Macken-Horarik, M. (1999). Critical literacy: Challenges and questions for ESL classrooms. TESOL Quarterly, 33(3), 528-544.

Moore, J., & Schleppegrell, M. (2014). Using a functional linguistics metalanguage to support academic language development in the English Language Arts. ​Linguistics and Education, 26​, 92-105.