Despite the relevance of agreement structures in constructing the interlanguage (IL) system of the L2 learner, not much research has been conducted in this area on Arabic language learners. This study investigated the acquisition of morphosyntactic agreement structures by Arabic as Foreign Language (AFL) learners in Ghana, using the Processability Theory (PT) formulated in Pienemann (1998, 2005). The theory predicts cross-linguistic developmental routes for the acquisition of grammatical structures. A cross-sectional study was performed in order to test the theory. Data were elicited from 15 participants from the University of Ghana, Legon using Grammaticality Judgment Task and Elicited Production Task. Five Arabic morphosyntactic agreement structures at the phrasal, inter-phrasal and subordinate clause processing procedure stages of Pienemann' s implicational hierarchy were tested. The data collected were analysed by using distributional analysis, a pre-defined emergence criterion and implicational scaling. The results of the study suggest that: (1) acquisition of agreement structures by AFL learners in Ghana seems to develop, generaly, according to PT's predictions; (2) there is enough evidence for the stability of developmental stages. In effect, that seems to confirm the cross-linguistic plausibility of the theory and (3) no significant differences were found in the acquisition of the Noun Predicative Adjective (an inter-phrasal structure) among all the participants. These findings were discussed in the light of L1 transfer and variation and processing constraints. The study highlights the importance of teaching L2 learners structures that they are cognitively and developmentally ready to process so that the entire teaching practice would be beneficial. Otherwise, learners IL development becomes stagnated, teaching becomes ineffective and precious classroom time is wasted, eventually.

Degree Name

MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Graduation Date


Submission Date

January 2013

First Advisor

El Essawi, Raghda

Committee Member 1

Abdou, Ashraf

Committee Member 2

Gebril, Atta


128 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Arabic language -- Study and teaching -- Gha.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Arabic language -- Usage -- Gha.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


This thesis would not have been possible without the kind assistance of many who in diverse ways extended their valuable assistance and guidance in the completion of the present study. I am most grateful to the University of Gha (UG) for granting me a two-year study leave to pursue my Masterâ s Degree. The American University in Cairo, under its African Graduate Fellowship (AGF), also finced my entire education at the University. I am grateful to the programme and to Ms. Sawsan Mardini, Director of Graduate Students Services, in particular, for her kindness and for being accommodating. I would like to acknowledge the research grant provided in conducting this study by Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. I owe sincere thankfulness to Dr. Raghda El Essawi, my thesis advisor, a hard working professor whose continuous advice and guidance, during my course work and in the preparation of this thesis, inspired me in completing this study. Also, thanks to my committee members, Dr. Ashraf Abdou for his patience and for providing valuable comments that have helped in shaping this work and to Dr. Atta Gebril from whom I have learned a lot about doing research in Applied Linguistic and for accepting to be my third reader. I am most grateful for his important suggestions. My gratitude to UG students who accepted to participate in this study. Colleagues at the TAFL Department have all also provided moral support throughout these tough times in Egypt. Thank you all for those great moments we have spent together. Last but not the least, my deep appreciations to all sources I have used and benefitted from throughout this study. To the Lord Almighty belongs thankfulness before and after.