Mainstreaming Arabic Second Language Acquisition Research


  • Mustafa Mughazy Western Michigan University


The papers included in this issue represent the current dominant trend in Arabic second language acquisition research in the United States: micro-level research designs, combining quantitative and qualitative research tools to address specific empirical questions aimed to improve the quality of instruction, learning opportunities, and teaching materials. This trend draws on theoretical models of the acquisition of a wide range of languages to demonstrate that the acquisition of Arabic, despite its structural and sociolinguistic “unique” properties, follows universal cognitive patterns, even if some of these properties might require special attention. At the same time, these research designs, while attempting to better understand the processes involved in the acquisition of particular linguistic features of Arabic, feed back into generalizable theoretical models of language acquisition beyond Arabic.

Author Biography

Mustafa Mughazy, Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University


Al-Batal, M. (2018). Dialect integration in the Arabic foreign language curriculum: Vision, rationale and models. In M. Al-Batal (Ed.), Arabic as one language: Integrating dialect in the Arabic language curriculum (pp. 3–22). Georgetown University Press.

Al-Batal, M., & Belnap, R. K. (2006). The teaching and learning of Arabic in the United States: Realities, needs, and future directions. In K. Wahba, Z. Taha, & L. England (Eds.), Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century (pp. 389–39). Routledge.

Albirini, A. (2015). The role of the colloquial varieties in the acquisition of the standard variety: The case of Arabic heritage speakers. Foreign Language Annals, 47(3), 447-463.

Albirini, A., & Benmamoun, E. (2012). Aspects of second language transfer in the production of Egyptian and Palestinian heritage speakers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(3), 244–273.

Bird, S., & Williams, J. (2002). The effect of bimodal input on implicit and explicit memory: An investigation into the benefits of within-language subtitling. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 509–533.

Flynn, S., Foley, C., & Vinnitskaya, I. (2004). The cumulative-enhancement model for language acquisition: Comparing adults’ and children’s patterns of development in first, second, and third language acquisition of relative clauses. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1, 3–16.

Montero Perez, M., Peters, E., & Desmet, P. (2014). Is less more? Effectiveness and perceived usefulness of keyword and full captioned video for L2 listening comprehension. ReCALL, 26(1), 21–43.

Rothman, J. (2010). On the typological economy of syntactic transfer: Word order and relative clause high/low attachment preference in L3 Brazilian Portuguese. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 48(2–3), 245–273.

Rothman, J. (2011). L3 syntactic transfer selectivity and typological determinacy: The typological primacy model. Second Language Research, 27(1), 107–127.

Rothman, J. (2015). Linguistic and cognitive motivations for the Typological Primacy Model of third language (L3) transfer: Timing of acquisition and proficiency considered. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18(2), 179–190.

Rothman, J., & Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2010). What variables condition syntactic transfer? A look at the L3 initial state. Second Language Research, 26(2), 189–218.

Showalter, C., & Hayes-Harb, R. (2015). Native English speakers learning Arabic: The influence of novel orthographic information on second language phonological acquisition. Applied Psycholinguistics, 36(1), 23–42.

Sorace, A. (2005). Selective optionality in language development. In L. Cornips, & K. Corrigan (Eds.), Syntax and variation: Reconciling the biological and the social (pp. 55-80). John Benjamins.

Sorace, A. (2011). Pinning down the concept of “interface” in bilingualism. Linguistic Approaches to bilingualism 1(1), 1-33.

Sorace, A. (2014). Input, timing, and outcomes in a wider model of bilingualism. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 4, 377-380.

Sorace, A., & Serratrice, L. (2009). Internal and external interfaces in bilingual language development: Beyond structural overlap. International Journal of Bilingualism, 13, 195–210.

Stevens, P. B. (2006). Is Spanish really so easy? Is Arabic really so hard?: Perceived difficulty in learning Arabic as a second language. In K. Wahba, Z. Taha, & L. England (Eds.), Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century (pp. 35–63). Routledge.

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Wiley, R. W., Wilson, C., & Rapp, B. (2016). The effects of alphabet and expertise on letter perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(8), 1186–1203.

Westergaard, M., Mitrofanova, N., Mykhaylyk, R., & Rodina, Y. (2017). Crosslinguistic influence in the acquisition of a third Language: The linguistic Proximity Model. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21(6), 666–82.

Younes, M. (2015). The Integrated approach to Arabic instruction. Routledge.

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How to Cite

Mughazy, M. (2022). Mainstreaming Arabic Second Language Acquisition Research. Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), i-xi. Retrieved from