Our Japanese Language School teachers are native Japanese speakers with years of experience. Whatever your level or learning-style, we can guarantee an enjoyable, immersive, and challenging experience with constant support from teachers.

Click the titles below to learn more about the Japanese Language School staff.

Beeman Sensei

Sachiko Beeman started at the Japan-America Society of Washington DC in 2018 and teaches beginner-level (100~ and 200~) Japanese classes to non-native speakers. She has also taught Japanese literature and writing to middle and high school students at the Washington Japanese Language School in Maryland for nearly 10 years.

Using both textbooks and videos, her goal is for students to be able to express confidently what they want to convey in everyday situations. Conversation skills are therefore very important, nurtured through practice drills as well as in small student group discussions. She also aims to ensure students learn vocabulary needed to discuss their own activities, family and interests. She also regularly draws from topical issues and news in Japan to help keep classes fun, enjoyable, and up to date.

She was born and raised in Osaka, and she has lived in other parts of Japan as well as in the United Kingdom and the United States. She has a B.A. in Art History and adores both alpacas and delicious food.

Chikata Sensei

Kumiko Chikata has been teaching Japanese at Japan-America Society of Washington DC for three years. Over 30 years of teaching experience in Japan, China and the US, Ms. Chikata has a deep understanding of how to work with students of all levels, ages, and various professions – from beginner to advanced. Ms. Chikata is also comfortable teaching professionals in more advanced fields such as interpretation.

Ms. Chikata believes it is important to make student-oriented teaching plans and syllabuses to help students achieve their goals. She also believes teaching Japanese should incorporate an introduction to the cultural differences between Japan and other countries. She often wears Kimono, so students can experience an authentic touch of Japanese culture.

Ms. Chikata was born and raised in Tokyo, so her spoken Japanese is standard Japanese with no regional accent. After being stationed in Beijing, China for 15 years, she and her family moved to Washington DC in 2000. She is a trained ballet dancer and loves playing the piano. She regularly holds Zoom concerts with her Soprano singer friend to present Japanese folk songs and more.

Graf Sensei

Kayoko Graf has been teaching Japanese at Japan-America Society of Washington DC for six years. Ms. Graf’s primary focus is Japanese beginner courses (101-204) in which students learn basic grammar, kanji and vocabulary.

Ms. Graf speaks mostly Japanese in classes and encourage students to use Japanese in the class as much as possible. She also includes lots of pair work activities during the class so that students will have more time to practice with their classmates.

 She was born and raised in Osaka and likes cooking Japanese food and traveling in her free time.

Hunter Sensei

Ms. Kaori Hunter has been teaching Japanese at Japan-America Society of Washington DC since 2012. She has experience teaching at all levels.

 Ms. Hunter believes that it is essential for her classroom to feel like a community where everyone feels they can learn in a positive, productive, fun & relaxed environment.  She holds students to high standards (lots of homework!) but will also make sure they have proper support.

Ms. Hunter was born and raised in Kanagawa, Japan and holds a BA from Tsuda University in Tokyo. Her hobbies include running, gardening and spending time with her beloved Shiba Inu.

Iwai Sensei

Kaori Iwai has been teaching Japanese at Japan-America Society of Washington DC since 2020. Ms. Iwai offers introductory and beginner courses, supporting hiragana/katakana study and using the textbook “Genki”. 

Ms. Iwai provides constructive assistance for each student, carefully observing his/her Japanese language development. To do so, she uses an interactive online tool during the class, by which each student can demonstrate his/her individual reactions/work and she can provide customized feedback during and after each lesson. Believing that making mistakes is an important part of the learning process, she encourages all students to speak, write and practice Japanese in a friendly and enjoyable environment. She is also very accessible whenever students need her advice and assistance. 

She was born and raised in Osaka. While enjoying teaching Japanese to adult students, she also provides Japanese lessons for children living in the U.S., Canada and Japan. She has been a language learner throughout her life and is currently enjoying/struggling with Thai language study.

Knapper Sensei

Ms. (Suzuko) Knapper joined Japan-America Society of Washington DC two years ago to teach Japanese, with a primary focus on the Japanese 101 Prep course, followed by 101 and 102. She uses many different resources beyond textbooks, such as YouTube and Japanese TV, to broaden students’ initial interests in Japanese language and its culture.

Knapper-sensei was born in Nishinomiya (near Kobe) in Japan. She has also lived in Seoul, Hanoi, and Tokyo, and moved to Washington, D.C., in 2011.  She majored in English and Asian Studies, and enjoys reading, Korean dramas, and Japanese pop music, and Zoom exercising in her free time.

Koga Sensei

Ms. Yuko Koga has been teaching at Japan-America Society of Washington DC for 11 years. Her primary focus is the Japanese 102 course, in which students strive to learn the fundamental difference between Japanese and English, learn to say simple expressions in Japanese, and perform simple communication in Japanese.

In the class, she strives to provide more comprehensive insight (beyond the textbooks) into the grammar items covered and to make the learning experience practical. She also provides background information regarding Japanese culture and how Japanese people process information and see the world around them.  In addition to homework assignments from the workbook, students are also encouraged to write simple phrases in Japanese tailored to their own experiences.

Ms. Koga was born and grew up in Osaka and enjoys swimming, cycling, traveling, reading, public speaking and visiting museums. She loves learning about other cultures and has a pet cat who she adores.

Masse Sensei

Ema Masse has been teaching at the Japan-America Society of Washington DC since 2018.

She used to work as a corporate interpreter (French/Japanese) across several industries and has also taught Japanese to French business professionals in the past.

Ms. Masse encourages participation in her classroom through interactive exercises. She likes to share cultural aspects to help support concepts and create an environment where people of different levels and backgrounds, but with a common passion for language, can learn together.

Ema was born and raised in Tokyo and lived in Europe and North Africa before moving to the US. She loves experiencing other cultures through traveling, eating, and learning other languages. She also enjoys going on long walks in DC with her dog.

Yoshida Sensei


Yumiko Yoshida has been teaching Japanese for over 25 years in both Japan and the US. She has taught Japanese in a variety of settings, including high schools in DC and VA, the Japanese heritage school in MD, Japan-America Society of Washington DC, and the Montgomery County adult language class. She enjoys teaching Japanese language and culture in a friendly classroom atmosphere. Her goal is for her students to speak Japanese comfortably at any level. She often brings Japanese news articles to class to help students understand current affairs. Outside of teaching, she enjoys printmaking and ballroom dancing.

Start your language journey today!

The Japanese Language School offers four semesters every year with classes from beginner through to intermediate and advanced Japanese. Read our course outline to learn more or contact us to see how we can find a class that best suits your needs.