Studies on writing in Arabic language are still in the early stages. This study investigated the writing strategies used by Sri Lankan learners of Arabic as a foreign language. The purposes of this study were to identify the writing strategies employed by these learners in composing Arabic essays and to propose an inventory of writing strategies for Arabic writing. This research employed a qualitative method. Participants were instructed to write an essay in Arabic, and data were elicited using a think-aloud protocol, observation, and retrospective interview. Eighteen pre-university Arabic language learners from the Fathih Institute of Sri Lanka participated in this investigation. They represent proficient, average, and less proficient writers and were selected based on a preliminary writing test and recommendation of the instructor. Data were then coded and rated by three experts. The Cohen’s Kappa inter-rater agreement value was 0.86. Findings showed that the learners used all five rhetorical, metacognitive, cognitive, communicative, and social/affective writing strategies. In using these strategies, the learners differed in how and why they used particular strategies. This study acknowledged thirty-six writing strategies used by persons learning Arabic as a foreign language in composing essays: an Arabic as a Foreign Language-Writing Strategies (AFL-WS) inventory. The findings suggest that Arabic writing instructors need to train learners in using these strategies effectively and productively. Then the learners would know their true ability to manage the language task.
Keywords: Arabic language, Sri Lanka, cognitive, metacognitive, writing strategies