Language Learning Innovators

Team

Daniel Lester
Director of Learning Outcomes

Danny has been teaching English since 2011 after completing a BA in Spanish, along with a minor in Applied Linguistics and TESOL certificate from Portland State University. He realized that his interest in Spanish was a love of linguistics and turned his focus towards teaching by enrolling in the  MA TESOL program Portland State. Danny has taught English in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon to wide variety of age groups and classroom settings. In his free time, he is an avid NBA fan – especially of his home team, the Portland Trail Blazers – and a life-long video game player. He currently lives in Kobe, Japan.

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Frith Ann Maier
Founder

Frith’s immersion language learning experiences inspired the NEI method, using web technology to create a program proven to help learners of English achieve their goals faster. She studied French in high school, then learned to speak Japanese during two years living in Japan, before becoming fluent in Russian as a college student. A successful serial entrepreneur, Frith created the Russia & Central Asia travel program for REI Adventures, and subsequently founded and built a software company, Sesame Communications. Master’s in International Studies (University of Washington), TESL-certified, Internet innovator. 

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Aleksandr "Sasha" Kamenev
VP Engineering

 

Aleksandr (“Sasha”) completed his Masters in Information Systems at SPb ITMO. He has more than 15 years of experience in the software engineering field building products and development teams for companies in the US, Canada, and Sweden. Sasha and his family are excited about moving to Kobe. He loves music on vinyl, and also Judo (has his black belt), soccer, and swimming.


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Michael
Learning Success Manager

Michael’s love of language, culture, and teaching led him to move to the Middle East to work with refugees in 2013. Since then, he has taught English in a variety of contexts while living in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. His efforts to learn foreign languages, including Arabic and Turkish, have made him sensitive to the needs of English learners. Michael holds CELTA certification that he earned in Izmir, Turkey. In his free time, he enjoys biking, kayaking, lifting weights, and reading.

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Alexa
Learning Success Manager

Alexa has a Masters in Art Policy and Management from Birkbeck University, London, as well as a BFA in Painting. While learning Spanish, she discovered that she loves teaching English. She has taught English to all age groups and in a variety of classroom settings. In her free time, she enjoys reading, creating art, and going to the beach. She was raised in Seattle and now lives in Barcelona. 

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Jason
Learning Success Manager

Jason began tutoring foreign exchange, university students in 2005 in his hometown of San Diego, California. He graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in humanities, history and philosophy.  After teaching in the States for 5 years and receiving his TESOL certificate, he moved to Thailand where he continued teaching students of various nationalities.  Still residing in Thailand, Jason enjoys spending time with his daughter, taking her to the sea as much as possible. He enjoys water sports, such as surfing, sailing, swimming, scuba diving, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. He is passionate about teaching and helping students reach their individual goals to be the best English speakers they can be.

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Nancy
Teaching Methodology Lead

Nancy graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human biology and went on to complete a Master’s degree in city planning at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981.  She worked in the field of city planning for 10 years before raising her family.   She has been teaching English in the Spanish-speaking community in Seattle since 2009.

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Karissa
Learning Success Manager

Karissa discovered a love of culture and language as a university student and earned a BS in Social Science. In 2010, to fulfill her dream of living abroad, she began teaching English in rural South Korea.  Since then, she has taught at various schools, universities, and businesses in Asia and Brazil. She spends her free time hiking, traveling, and watching funny movies. She grew up in Colorado and now lives in Okayama, Japan.

 

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Jacek
Engineering Manager

Jacek studied IT at university, and he is excited about functional programming and  blockchain technology. He specializes in creating mobile applications and seizes every opportunity to learn new technologies. Jacek has built dozens of applications which impact thousands of people around the world. He joined the NEI team to build new experiences for students and teachers worldwide. He loves to travel and taste new cultures, and he finished his first Ironman in the Canary Islands.. 

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Ai
Marketing Director

Ai, a veteran of advertising giant Dentsu, lives inTokyo. For five years, she and her husband lived in Seattle, where she earned her MBA at the University of Washington. She has competed in tennis in the USTA league. Ai loves friends, beer, and outdoor adventures.

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Grzegorz T.
Front-End Developer

Grzegorz graduated from the University of Technology in Rzeszów. From his early school years, he has been interested in computer technologies. He ultimately decided to become a front-end developer because it gives him the most joy. Grzegorz's best  patience and quick adaptation to the new team and situation. Grzegorz is patient, quick to adapt, and a great problem solver. He loves big challenges. He spends his free time on mathematics and cars.

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Karen
Subscriber Relations Lead

Karen earned a B.A. in Social Science Teaching and subsequently taught World Literature and English to teenagers at a public school in Boulder, Colorado. Her TESL certification was motivated by Karen’s desire to work with English language learners of all ages in diverse educational settings.

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Grzegorz W.
Back-End Developer

At age 16, Grzegorz began to live and breathe programming. As a senior developer, he specializes in database design and management, and has designed several systems entirely from scratch. He likes sports and traveling.

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Yas
Subscriber Relations -- Japan

Yas worked for Sony Corporation for more than 20 years. He was stationed in New York and Singapore for 4 years, and has visited 40 countries.  His NEI Score is 33, he passed Eiken Grade 1, and his TOEIC score is 980. Yas loves to ride his bike. He has made a round trip between central Tokyo and Hakone, gone around Awajishima island in a day, and pedaled 220km in one day. 

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Galina
Machine Learning Solution Architect


Galina brings to NEI deep experience in applying advanced AI solutions for learning. Fluent in Bulgarian and English, she also has some proficiency in French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish! As a multilingual, she is truly excited about the NEI mission of making language learning more efficient and rewarding. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK and she leads the Japan Chapter of Omdena - the world-leading collaborative platform for AI for Good.


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Advisors

Marek Tuchalski
Engineering Consultant

Marek studied physics in university and loves science and science fiction. Long before that he was fascinated by computers and spent every free moment with them. Channeling his fascination with how the universe works into pioneering technology platforms, he has headed up the software development teams in multiple companies.  To Marek, the perfect world will be one free of ignorance and autocrats. He is helping NEI to shape that world by delivering training solutions that unlock human potential.

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Allen Miner
Board Director
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Max Bovykin
Advisor - Technology
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Teachers

Read about the talented contractors who teach using the NEI method.
•TESL-certified
•native speakers of North American English
•university graduates

Mishel

Mishel graduated from Portland State University with dual degrees in Japanese and Russian.  After graduating in 2014, she moved to a small town in northern Hokkaido and taught ESL to children and adults for five wonderful years. When not in the classroom, Mishel enjoys reading, playing video games, and traveling. 

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Jeffrey

Jeffrey earned his Bachelor’s degree in German and minored in Russian and Speech Communication. After graduating, he began his career in teaching English in numerous countries around the world. In 2014 he earned his Master’s degree in TESOL from Portland State University. He continued his teaching career in Qatar and the United States, and is currently living in Sweden. In his free time, Jeffrey enjoys learning languages, traveling, reading, and cooking. 

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Avernell

Avernell graduated from the Russian Academy of Music with a degree in Performing Arts. While obtaining her degree in Moscow Russia, she discovered a passion for teaching English as a Second language. Her love for language and culture allowed her to teach people all over the world both online and in the classroom. She is  TEFL certified and currently resides in the Caribbean as Music Director and  English Teacher.

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Susan

Susan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Japanese Studies at Guilford College, in North Carolina, and lived and worked in Japan for three years, during and after her university studies. She received her M.Ed. in TESOL in 2010 from Seattle University, in Seattle, WA. While working at City University of Seattle she spent 11 weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, teaching Academic English through a partner program with the Banking Academy of Vietnam. In 2016, she moved to Madrid, Spain to complete her M.A. in Visual and Digital Media at Instituto Empresa (IE), staying on for another year to study Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, travel, and photography.

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Jeremy

Jeremy is from Upstate New York and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. For the past 10 years, he has enjoyed working abroad in Japan, Hong Kong, and now Thailand. In addition to his work as an English teacher, he is a certified and internationally recognized ice hockey game official supervisor and coach. In his spare time, he enjoys road trips, golf, and yoga.

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Katie

Katie's love of language and culture was cultivated in Costa Rica where she began teaching in a small village in 2015. As she perfected her Spanish, she was able to better develop English teaching methods and earn her TEFL Certification. Later, she moved to Argentina to complete a Fulbright English teaching assistantship, and her passion for Latin American culture and language acquisition grew even more. She now resides in Ecuador where she leads yoga and meditation workshops.


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Anne

Anne graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in English. Her career in broadcasting took her all over the world producing and directing TV travel shows and documentary films. Now settled in the U.K., she lived in Paris for ten years and speaks fluent French.   

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Mike

Mike graduated from Bristol University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and he earned his TEFL certification in Bangkok, Thailand. His hobbies include graphic design and electronic dance music(EDM). He is an EDM producer and musician with credits on the Thai Public Broadcasting Station and songs ranked in the Top 100 on major global music websites. He has been teaching students all over the world for more than 15 years.

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Suzanne

Suzanne earned her BA in Multilingual Education at Florida State University with a major in French and a minor in Spanish. After a brief stint of teaching French and Spanish in Florida, she decided to teach English as a foreign language overseas. She taught English to university students, children, and adults in South Korea for 20 years. During that time, she earned her MA in TESOL from the University of London, and her PhD in Naturopathic Medicine. When she isn’t teaching, Suzanne enjoys working out, hiking, swimming, reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time in nature.

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Vuk

Vuk loves to bring energy and fun to his teaching. His university degree is in English education. In his seven years of language teaching, he has focused on creating a relaxed learning atmosphere and lessons to fit the individual. In addition to English, he has also taught guitar. In his free time he enjoys playing games and sports, and watching movies.


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Steve

After studying in both Japan and China, Steve graduated from Long Island University in 2017 with a degree in Global Studies. Upon graduating, he moved to the Tohoku region of Japan and taught high school. He moved on from there to teach in Shanghai, China. When he is not at work, he enjoys music, video games, and sci-fi movies.

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Ashten

Ashten combines passion for teaching with her knowledge of linguistics (her major is  Applied Linguistics), and she has experience teaching students from Japan and China.  She enjoys studying Spanish, German, Greek, and Latin (her favorite). She likes to hike in the Pacific Northwest with her sister, go to the movies, roller skate, read, and garden. She also enjoys fencing.

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Sam

Sam has a degree in Political Science from the University of California-Davis and holds an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of London. His interest in teaching and linguistics began as a volunteer teacher to Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers. He was TESL certified in 2011 and moved to Turkey, where he worked as a university language instructor and taught English and the TOEFL exam to Syrian refugees. More recently, Sam was the English Department manager in an international school in the Kurdish region of Iraq. He has over a decade of teaching experience and currently resides in Istanbul. His interests include history, studying foreign languages, and traveling.

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Jackie

After growing up in California, Jackie joined the United States Marine Corps and traveled to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. After completing his service, he attended college and completed his Master's in TESOL at San Jose State University. He moved to Japan in 2016. He has taught English to students of all ages, from teenagers to adult professionals. In his spare time, he likes to travel, read, and play video games.

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Gina-Marie

Gina-Marie was born in New York and has lived and worked in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. She started her teaching career in 2001 and began teaching English in 2009. She earned her TESOL/TEFL license in the UK in 2013 and has worked with students of all ages since then. Her hobbies include art, travel, reading, listening to music, and learning. She currently lives in Tokyo with her husband and two cats.

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Musha

Mushamisi graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Communication Arts. After graduating in 2008, he gained experience primarily as a patent illustrator and Intellectual Property Specialist. His experience has ranged across several professional sectors and culturally diverse workspaces in different parts of the world. He started teaching art, which led him to become certified to teach English as a Second Language. In his free time, he enjoys volunteering, reading, and painting.

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Estelle

Estelle has a B.A. in German Studies and English Literature from Pacific University. She has been teaching English since 2006. Upon graduation, she spent a year in Austria as a Fulbright teaching assistant. After returning to the U.S., she received her Master’s in TESOL from Portland State University and has taught in community, academic, and individual tutoring contexts. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling, and has visited nearly 35 countries.

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Chandler

Chandler is a veteran of the marketing and publicity world where he worked in corporate communications for Disney, Sony, Toshiba and Weber Shandwick Worldwide. He graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Business and attended New York University for a two-year program in Business Communications. Chandler earned a TESOL certificate in New York and has been teaching English since 2018. He will soon complete an MA in English Education. In his free time he enjoys playing the piano and traveling.


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Ben

Ben has spent most of his life in Japan. He came to Japan at age six and attended an international school in Tokyo. Upon graduating from high school, he returned to the United States for a short time to attend North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Since 2003 he has been living and teaching in Tokyo as a physical education and music teacher, while completing his studies in Sport Management from the University of New Hampshire. Ben also works for the Japan professional basketball and volleyball leagues as a media statistician, and is a musician in a variety of bands and music groups that travel all over Japan.

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Nikki

Nikki has her BA in Secondary English Education and ESOL from the University of South Florida, and is currently pursuing a Master's of Education at Bangkok Thonburi University. She is in her sixth year of teaching ESOL in Asia and is currently working with Japanese students at an international school in Bangkok. Prior to this she was in South Korea teaching ESOL to students ages 5-18, as well as educating Korean English teachers in linguistics, literature, and teaching methodology. She is fluent in French and Korean and has acquired conversational Thai. She is a strong believer in the pursuit of lifelong learning and is honored to be a part of anyone's learning journey.


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Brendan

Brendan is from the small town of Chico, California. His love of languages led him to a BA in Linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He earned a master's degree in teaching international languages from California State University in Chico and has been teaching English since 2013. In his free time he enjoys reading, writing, and playing computer games with his wife.

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Kie

Kie grew up in the United States. Her degrees are in Exercise Biology and Global Health Sciences. She has been teaching students from diverse backgrounds for many years. She is excited to be working with NEI, teaching individuals all over the world. Outside of academics, she enjoys outdoor exercise and sports. She recently started long-boarding and unicycling. She also enjoys the arts and spending time with family and friends.

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Adeola

Adeola graduated from the University of Delaware in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Spanish Language Studies. He received his TEFL certification soon after while working as a flight attendant. Since then he has enjoyed teaching English online and traveling the world as a part of  his work. He speaks both English and Spanish, and is currently learning Japanese. He loves teaching because he gets to meet so many different people, and he always enjoys learning from his students.

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Joseph

Joseph was born in California and currently lives in Thailand. He has taught professionally for the past six years. He loves it! In addition to teaching and living abroad, his interests include travel, food, visual arts, and health and wellness.  

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Martha

Martha is a passionate and compassionate teacher who truly enjoys coaching her students in English and North American accents. She has fifteen years of teaching experience. Martha earned a Master of TESOL degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Speech Therapy. She lives on North Haven Island in the State of Maine, twelve miles from the mainland. Martha is married with two grown children. She enjoys playing music, especially classical and jazz flute.

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Kristie

Kristie obtained a PhD in veterinary medicine and an MS in Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is TESOL-certified and loves helping English Language Learners in the sciences. She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher and is learning to chant in Sanskrit! She lives in Greenfield, Wisconsin.

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Asad

Asad earned his BA in International Affairs from the University of Georgia. After spending a year in South Korea as a Fulbright grantee, he went on to teach English in Vietnam and Taiwan before returning to the United States for his MA in TESOL at Portland State University. Asad has formal training in French, Arabic, Korean, and Vietnamese.

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Christopher

Christopher hails from the United States. Christopher has worked in a variety of settings in the field of international development. His career includes service as a Peace Corps volunteer, and employment with Peace Corps Headquarters and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the areas of information systems development and administration. Learning and training have been important aspects of Christopher’s work, whether it was teaching biology in a government high school in Cameroon (West Africa), managing computer training at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC (USA) or providing information systems training for FAO staff in Europe or Asia. Christopher is very familiar with the challenges facing adult language learners, having studied Spanish in junior high and high school, as well as French, Italian and Thai as an adult. When not teaching for NEI Christopher volunteers his time teaching English to students from disadvantaged families in Northern Thailand. 

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Rachel

Rachel has been working as a teacher of English since 2006. Her experiences include K-12 and higher education, including working as an ESL instructor at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she has worked as a coach of business professionals. Rachel earned her M.Ed. in TESL and Teacher Leadership from Rowan University; she has also dedicated time to studying French and Arabic. Her travels have taken her to more than 15 countries, and through these experiences, she has enjoyed learning about and expanding her knowledge of different languages and cultures. 

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Elsa

Elsa earned her BA in Psychology and Spanish at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After graduating, she completed her TESL certification, taught English in South Korea for one year, and then taught English to elementary school students in Portland, Oregon. Through these experiences, Elsa discovered her passion for teaching and went on to pursue her Master’s in TESOL at Portland State University in Oregon. Elsa speaks Spanish and Korean, but would like to learn many other languages! She loves to travel, play video games, go hiking, and listen to music.  

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Jessica

Jessica earned her BA in Social Sciences, with a minor in Geography, at Chico State. After graduation, she moved to New Mexico where she began teaching English language learners from Mexico and Japan. She later earned her Master's in TESOL at Portland State, lived in Peru and Japan (twice!) where she taught English to learners of all ages. Her love of travel and connecting with people from around the globe inspires Jessica to share experiences and continue learning.

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Kelsey

Kelsey Hurst graduated from Portland State University in Oregon with her Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She enjoys learning languages (Japanese!) and traveling, and plans to teach around the world. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, walking her cat, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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