Ghassan Husseinali Named 2012-13 Fenwick Fellow

Posted: September 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

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By Mark Schwartz, University Libraries

Ghassan Husseinali. Photo courtesy of University Libraries

Ghassan Husseinali, assistant professor of Arabic and the director of the Arabic minor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, is the Fenwick Fellow for the 2012-13 academic year, University Librarian John Zenelis announced.

The annual Fenwick Fellow program assists research by Mason faculty members and enhances the resources and capabilities for the University Libraries. The fellowship provides a $5,000 award for research materials and assistance, along with a fully equipped office in the Fenwick Library, to support a research project. Conducted each spring, the competition is open to all tenured and tenure-track faculty members at Mason.

Husseinali’s research project, “Investigating the Underlying Grammar of Arabic as a Foreign Language,” sets out to examine the stages of acquisition of syntactic structures by native speakers of English learning Arabic as a foreign language in the United States.

Husseinali plans to collect data longitudinally by interviewing a cohort of native speakers of English learning Arabic as a foreign language. Interviews will occur on a monthly basis. All collected data will be transcribed and coded to determine how certain grammatical structures develop over a period of one academic year.

“The results of this research will shed more light on the validity of recent second language (L2) acquisition theories claiming that development of L2 grammar is constrained by internal processes,” Husseinali stated in his research proposal. “Furthermore, given that Arabic and English are distant languages, the findings will contribute a new perspective to L2 learning.”

Husseinali’s Fenwick Fellow research proposal was unanimously recommended by the selection committee of instructional faculty and librarians. For the first time, all instructional faculty on the selection committee were former awardees of the Fenwick Fellowship.

“The University Libraries is looking forward to supporting this important study in the field of language acquisition and sponsoring the public lecture during the spring semester of 2014 when Professor Husseinali will present the results of his research,” says Zenelis.

Write to Robin Herron at

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