Using systemic functional grammar in the media classroom: Increasing students’ ability to produce and analyse media texts

  • Jenny Clarence-Fincham


This article explores the use of Systemic Functional Grammar in a module for University students entitled Analysing Media Texts. This module aims at assisting  students to produce their own texts and to help them develop an understanding of the linguistic choices they make. Students are introduced to the key principles of CDA and to Halliday’s SFG to provide them with tools to assist them to understand the social and constructed nature of discourses, especially those typically found in media texts. This article follows on (Clarence-Fincham 2000), which focuses on students’ interpretation of media texts, their ability to read with greater understanding and to apply key concepts that they had learnt to their analyses.  The students demonstrated clearly that they had developed an understanding of  CDA, acquired  the basic metalanguage necessary for Hallidayan analysis and some of them could produce much more rigorous textual analyses than before. This article focuses on the engagement and high level of motivation students showed when asked to produce their own texts. Examples of the texts are given of texts produced and analysed by the students. Students reported that choosing and constructing their own texts had been both beneficial and enjoyable. However, students were able to produce fine-tuned linguistic analysis in the time allotted – some of them still resorted to extremely mechanistic analyses which took no explicit account of the purpose or function of the language and still less of the significance of the linguistic choices made.


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Author Biography

Jenny Clarence-Fincham
Jenny Clarence-Fincham teaches in the School of Language, Culture and Communication at the Universtiy of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. (email: