Professor Geoff Williams

BEd(Sydney), MA(Hons)(Sydney), Phd(Linguistics)(Macquarie)

Honorary Professor


Phone: +61 2 9351 4710

Fax: +61 2 9351 5027

Building.Room: A35.Room 920

Research interests

Research on teaching and learning

  • English and literacy


Literacy education, ontogenesis of ways of meaning, semantic variation, social semiotics, health care communication

Professional biography

Additional to his honorary appointment at this University, Geoff is an Emeritus Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada, where he was Head of the Department of Language and Literacy Education from 2005 to 2010.  Earlier, he held senior lecturer appointments at the University of Sydney in the Faculty of Education (1979-1993) in the fields of Primary Education and English Language, and the Faculty of Arts, Department of English, in the English Language and Early English Literature section (1993-2005).  He has been a regular recent Academic Visitor to Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and City University, Hong Kong.


  • University Medal (MA thesis)

  • NSW Institute of Education Research Prize

Professional and community roles

  • Review Editor, Linguistics and the human sciences (2004 – present)

  • Emeritus Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Canada

  • Member, Editorial Board, Functional Linguistics

  • Member, Academic Board, Halliday-Hasan International Fund for the Study of Language and Other Systems of Meaning, Beijing Normal University

  • Global Associate, Functional Linguistics Institute, Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou, China.

Current projects

  • Children's literacy development in rural Ethiopia. Geoff continues to collaborate on research with a colleague at the University of British Columbia, Dr Marlene Asselin, on initiatives to support children's literacy development in rural Ethiopia through small community libraries.
  • Effects of Melanoma Patient SES on Communication during Initial Consultations. Geoff is collaborating in this project with Professor Fran Boyle, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney and Melanoma Institute Australia, and Ms Lani Teddy, Melanoma Institute Australia. Data-gathering and transcription for the project commenced in June 2016. The project is funded by The Friends of the Mater and by the Melanoma Institute Australia. Additional to its practical contributions, the project is designed to enhance knowledge of semantic variation, a concept developed by Professor Ruqaiya Hasan and extended in Geoff's earlier work, and that of his close colleague, Dr Carmel Cloran.
  • Children's development of knowledge of grammar [grammatics]. Geoff is currently developing a new proposal to extend prior work in this field. Publications from earlier phases include: Williams G. 2005. Grammatics in schools. In Continuing Discourse on Language. Volume 1. Eds. J. Webster, C. Matthiessen and R. Hasan. London: Equinoxpp. pp. 281-310. Williams G. 2004. Ontogenesis and grammatics: Functions of metalanguage in pedagogical discourse. In The Development of Language: Functional perspectives on species and individuals. Eds. G. Williams and A. Lukin. London and New York: Continuum. pp.241-267. Williams G. 2000. Children's literature, children and uses of language description. In Researching Language in Schools and Communities. Ed. L. Unsworth. London: Cassell. pp.111-129.

Selected publications

Book chapters

  • Geoff Williams. (2016). Reflection literacy in the first years of schooling: Questions of theory and practice. . In Wendy Bowcher and Jennifer Liang (Eds.), Society in Language, Language in Society: Essays in Honour of Ruqaiya Hasan London: Palsgrave Macmillan.