This paper investigates the acquisition of 16 types of the Chinese ba construction by New Zealand second language learners. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey and longitudinal interviews were used to collect data. The accurate use of the ba constructions by 30 English native speakers was calculated. The order was reinforced by qualitative data collected from interviews with five students for 10 months. The order reflected the dynamic process that learners’ second language acquisition developed from an erroneous state to an accurate state. The findings lent support to Pienemann’s Proccessability Hypothesis.
The longitudinal data collected from interviews lent support to the finding of the cross-sectional questionnaire survey and enabled us to divide the acquisition process into several stages. The first stage of acquisition is to master the ba construction with a prepositional complement. The second stage involves is to acquire the ba construction with a resultative complement. The difficulty of this type of ba construction varies with the specific verbs involved. This order is consistent with the Japanese second language learners’ acquisition order found in Cheng’s study (2006).The findings suggest that the acquisition order of the ba construction is relatively stable and independent from the learners’ first language. In addition, the acquisition of the ba construction is a relatively long process, particularly for foreign language learners studying Chinese in a non-target language environment. Despite two years of study, the students’ proficiency in Chinese remained at an elementary level. Due to the restriction of the language environment and the limited time spent learning, the acquisition of the ba construction mainly focuses on maintaining learned knowledge rather than developing communicative skills.