Grammar sequencing in the communicative Arabic classroom : students’ written production
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Over the course of the past 20 years, the rise in popularity of communicative language teaching as an alternative to traditional methodologies in Arabic-language pedagogy has led many within the field to re-examine their instructional priorities and methodological tenets. In general, traditional pedagogical approaches in the field of Arabic-language instruction dictate front-loaded presentation of grammatical concepts. The premise of communicative language teaching, on the other hand, is based on the primacy of successful foreign language interactions, where students are sequentially provided the grammatical concepts that are required to accomplish specific and targeted communicative functions and tasks. Concordantly, the instruction of grammar concepts that are deemed surplus to the requirements of level-appropriate interactions is deferred until the student has become linguistically prepared to incorporate and effectively utilize more complex grammatical structures. This thesis presents the results of a study of students’ spontaneous and planned written production in Arabic focusing on the production of dual and feminine plural forms, which have been strategically delayed in the sequence of grammar presentation. Additionally, individual interviews with both students and instructors were conducted to gather their impressions of, and strategies for, dealing with the sequence of grammar presentation in which these concepts are delayed. Results indicate that students who were not presented detailed instruction regarding the dual and feminine plural constructs early in their pedagogical sequence displayed level-appropriate patterns of avoidance and generalization in their early language production. As students progressed through the third-year courses and into post third-year courses, they displayed high levels of successful incorporation of the Modern Standard Arabic dual and feminine plural forms in their written production. With their successful conceptual uptake, the learners demonstrate their ability to acquire grammatical concepts despite the sequential delay in presentation thereof. Interview results show students’ and instructors’ awareness of the intent and focus of the pedagogical sequence. Based on their personal experience in studying and/or teaching Arabic, and despite instances of frustrations or challenges arising from the delay in grammar sequence, all interviewees expressed their support and endorsement of the methodology.