Analysis of an ESL Speaker
Here we have Ken Watanabe, a fifty-four year old Japanese stage, film, and television actor. We watch Ken as he is interviewed one on one by Jim Halterman, promoting a new movie at the time, "Inception" (2004). Ken seems calm and collected as he was asked questions not only about his role in the film but his relationship with the director and actors. He makes it clear from the interview that as an actor, he spends a lot of time traveling, which may have assisted in him picking up different languages. Even though English isn't his main language, he was still confident enough to make jokes with the interviewer and answer every question that was thrown his way. Although he spent the majority of his lifetime filming Japanese films, it wasn't until 2003 that he made his big U.S screen debut in "The Last Samurai". It's not exactly known when Mr. Watanabe began to learn any other language other than his native Japanese, but it is assumed that he picked up on English some time in his early twenties when he attended England's National Theatre Company. Learning English as a second language has been pretty beneficial for Watanabe since it has opened the doors for him to land more roles in American movies and Watanabe’s English would probably be best described as that of an advanced beginner.
Watanabe seems to be quite comfortable speaking English and he understood all of the questions that Halterman asked in this interview; however, it was still quite difficult at times to understand what Watanabe was trying to say. Some of the difficulty comes from phonological interference from Watanabe’s L1, Japanese; the most notable example of Watanabe’s difficulty with some of the phonology of English is his inability to pronounce r’s in such words as “character,” which comes out more like “kalicta.” Another challenge comes from Watanabe’s boldly artistic manner of speech, which might prove baffling to even two native...