Date of Award

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Hamid Ouali

Committee Members

Hamid Ouali, Fred Eckman, Sandra Pucci, Gary Davis


Arabic, Formulaic Language, Processability Theory


The aim of this study is to look at the developmental stages of the acquisition of Arabic as a foreign language by adult English learners. Processability theory (Pienemann, 1998, 2005) is adopted to investigate in detail whether the acquisition development will follow the hierarchy as stated by PT. The study targeted agreement within seven grammatical structures. The structures belong to three procedural levels of the hierarchy (stages three to five).

Six adult learners participated in this study. They were tested via different tasks to elicit data either to support the predictions of PT hierarchy, or to disconfirm it. Two participants produced subject – verb agreement (stage 4) at a higher rate than N-aAdj / N-N agreement (stage 3). Before disconfirming the Prediction of PT hierarchy, the two participants took a second test to make sure the language they produced is processed and not retrieved as a formula. Students were introduced to a set of new vocabulary and were asked to tell a story based on three picture stories. By learning unfamiliar vocabulary in isolation, the two participants applied grammatical relations to combine words together. Data in test 2 showed a decrease in the acquisition rate of S – V agreement. Therefore, confirming the predictions of PT.

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