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Keywords:

  • cross-linguistic injluence;
  • subjunctive;
  • think-aloud protocol;
  • third language (L3) acquisition;
  • transfer;
  • English;
  • Portuguese;
  • Spanish

This study investigates typological distance and order of acquisition (i.e, the order in which languages were acquired) in the context in which Spanish-English bilingual students, whose first language is English or Spanish, are learning Portuguese as a third language (L3). Participants were asked to think aloud as they worked on pedagogical tasks involving the present and future subjunctive in Portuguese, followed by stimulated recalls. Findings indicate that both groups rely heavily on Spanish when performing both tasks, leading us to conclude that linguistic similarity between the languages overrides order of acquisition. Data derived from learners' reflections elucidated some dqferences in transfer patterns between the groups that would not be revealed otherwise, contributing to a better understanding of these variables in L3 acquisition in general and the acquisition of Portuguese by Spanish speakers in particular.