All of our teachers are native French speakers. They come from diverse backgrounds and have years of expertise in teaching French all over the world. FIAF ensures that our teachers are up-to-date in the most recent methodologies and technologies through regular specialized training workshops led by experts in the field of French education.
View teacher bios below.
Born and raised in Paris, Luma Aci has created educational performances in New York that link music, performing arts and French language (French Heritage day in Hunter College, United Nations’ day in Brooklyn Borough Hall, workshops in International Acting School) and can give valuable tips about pronunciation. She holds a Master’s degree II (DEA) in French language and modern literature from Paris IV – Sorbonne, has a solid knowledge of French culture – particularly music, theater, art and literature – and also works as a voice instructor and piano instructor.
Leila Baiod is a certified teacher from Algeria, and has taught French for seventeen years to students of various ages. For twenty years, she’s lived in the United States with her husband and two girls, bouncing between Oklahoma and New Jersey. In Oklahoma, she was a founding board member of “Le Monde International”, a French and Spanish language immersion school where she taught science and history, in French, to first, second, and third graders. Now that she’s back in the tristate area, she is excited to work with FIAF to nurture young minds in the French language and culture.
N’Mah was born and raised in Paris, France. She obtained her Master’s degree in FLE from the University of Paris VIII in 2006. After working for different language schools in Paris and also in a French immersion school in Minnesota, she joined the Alliance Française of Paris in 2008, where she gained extensive experience teaching all levels of French to both general adult classes and private lessons. N’Mah also holds an ESL certification and taught English to adults in Paris. She moved to New York end of 2011 and joined FIAF in 2015.
Of Portuguese origin, Estela Baptista was born and raised in France. She also lived in Portugal where she studied Modern Languages and Literature (French and German studies), and taught kids, children with special needs, teenagers and adults. She also worked as the Head of an Adult Education Program for five years, and as the Coordinator of a School Library. She moved to the United States in September 2016, and joined FIAF in November 2017.
Aurélien Bayo was born and raised in Besançon, France. He received a Bachelor’s degree in literature and cinema from University of France-Comté. After his studies, he moved to the United States in 2015 and worked at the Cleveland International Film Festival for three seasons. During his time in Cleveland, Aurélien taught for Learnship, a foreign language training company. He gained extensive experience teaching all levels of French to students of all ages, both privately and in a group setting. He joined FIAF in 2018 after moving to New York. Alongside his passion for teaching, Aurélien loves art, cinema, soccer and traveling.
Originally from Strasbourg, France, Muriel Beer has taught all levels of French to people of all ages. Her experience includes teaching at Fordham University and implementing a French program for young children at a Montessori school in NYC. She holds a degree in English from University Marc Bloch, where she also studied French as a foreign language. In addition to her background in education, Muriel studied English at the British European Center in Oxford, as well as acting at Le Studio Dramatique.
BELLAHSEN BRENT, Charlie
Charlie Bellahsen was born in Paris and studied foreign languages at the Université Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne (UPEC) before obtaining a Bachelor’s of Business Administration at the ESGCI (Ecole supérieure de gestion et commerce international). Charlie was an ESL instructor in the Caribbean before moving to New York City in 2015 where she has been teaching French since 2016. She completed a degree in French as a Foreign language and is currently completing her Master’s degree in French Didactique at the Sorbonne University in Paris through online courses. She began working at FIAF in April 2018 and teaches children, teenagers and adults.
Thierry Bidault de l’Isle studied international politics and economy at the Université des Sciences Politiques in Paris, as well as literature at the Sorbonne and international commercial law at Paris-Assas In 1994, he received a Certificate in English from Columbia University Teachers College. Thierry worked as an instructor from 1995 to 2007 in Washington D.C. for the Discovery Channel, the Federal Communication Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. He also co-founded the DC Independent Film Festival in 1995. From 1998 to 2002, he was the VP of the Washington DC chapter of the Sciences-Po Alumni Association. Thierry joined FIAF in 2005 and has tutored top executives at BNP, Goldman Sachs, and Cartier, among others. He also works for NGOs like the United Nations. His students include high-ranking executives such as former US ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and former US ambassador to France Jane Hartley. In addition to his comprehensive experience tutoring in the banking and business sectors, Thierry is the author of books on French grammar, history, international relations, and French wine.
Annick Billet is a native French speaker with diverse experience, teaching students of all ages and backgrounds. While obtaining her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in French at Hunter College, she taught Continuing Education at Marymount College and French to students of all levels at FIAF. Subsequently, when living in London, England, she trained CNN journalists in the French language. Finally, after moving back to the United States, she taught French for 15 years in the public schools of Buffalo, New York, to many students, including those enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program and those preparing to take the Regents Exam in French. Her students ranged from 1st graders to 12th graders. In Buffalo, she completed her PhD in French Philosophy and Literature at the University at Buffalo (UB).
Julie Bordeaux was born and raised in Les Herbiers, a small city close to Nantes, France. Julie has a business background and worked in retail food and insurance for 15 years. After spending many years abroad (Switzerland, Ireland and now the US), she decided to rethink her career, start teaching, and complete her DAEFLE training. She started by teaching French to adults of all levels and then put her learning into practice with young children by working in an International bilingual school. Julie joined FIAF in summer 2021. In addition to teaching, Julie enjoys spending time with her 2 children and her husband, travelling, running and doing yoga.
Bio coming soon.
Veronique Buelens grew up in Brussels, Belgium and holds a degree in special education and social work. She has worked with children of all ages and backgrounds, as well as with adults in private lessons. She has vast experience with multilingualism both through her work and with her own children. Veronique has earned several awards for dictation and grammar by participating in inter-school competitions and is passionate about reading and writing. Seven years ago, Veronique moved to New York and worked as a teacher at Bonjour NY and La Petite Ecole. She taught children’s group classes and adult private lessons from 2013 to 2017. In addition to her professional experience, Veronique also brings new ideas, views and approaches to education to FIAF.
CAMBIER WEINSTEIN, Peggy
Peggy Cambier-Weinstein has been teaching at FIAF since 2004, specializing in private tutoring. Originally from Lille, Peggy received a degree in translation and interpretation from the Institut Supérieur d’Interprétation et Traduction and a degree in English literature from the Sorbonne. She worked as a translator and interpreter in Paris before moving to the U.S. A Parisian at heart, Peggy lives on the Upper West Side with her American husband and their three bilingual children. She has extensive experience teaching in the business, international affairs, luxury, and media sectors.
Marie-Thérèse Casseus is a native French speaker with more than twenty five years’ experience in teaching the French language, French culture and French literature. She taught at Columbia University and at the City University of New York. She is patient, encouraging and she enjoys teaching. Her approach varies depending on the needs and interests of the individual student. Whether students need to acquire basic language skills in French or desire to keep up with French cultural life, Marie-Thérèse Casseus will guide them to achieve their goals in a professional and friendly manner.
Isabelle Charbonnel was born and raised in Paris, France. She graduated with a Diploma of Aptitude for teaching French as a second language delivered by the Alliance Française (DAEFLE). She also earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in teaching French as a second language. Previously, she was a digital marketing webmaster. She is a passionate expert on the French language. Isabelle loves helping other learners to speak French in a real-world context as well as keeping students motivated with interactive learning support.
Cédric Chaudre grew up in Northeast France. He graduated with a diploma in Education and taught in middle schools in France. He moved to Paris where he was employed as an Automatic Speech Recognition Software Analyst in an international team. This experience developed his interest in language acquisition and Cédric decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics, where he researched how mobile technologies can improve language acquisition. After a few years of teaching in language institutes in Paris, Cedric moved to New York in 2013 where he taught French in the after-school program of dual language schools and to adult students working for international companies (C. Louboutin, Natori). Cedric also taught business professionals in private classes. Now, Cédric works for the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) where he enjoys teaching a variety of students who share a passion for the French language and culture.
Yulia Cheremisova has been passionate about foreign languages and cultures since her early childhood (she speaks French, Russian, English, Greek, Albanian and Italian). She started teaching French in Saint Petersburg in 2003 while obtaining her Master’s degree in Language Teaching. She then spent 12 years in Paris teaching French as a foreign language to adults. While pursuing her PhD at the University of Tours (France), she created modules for teaching French language through movement and art-based practices. She moved to the United States in 2019 and recently joined the FIAF team to continue giving private and group lessons to children and adults. Outside of teaching, Yulia enjoys pursuing her passion for dance.
Selma Chibane was born in Algiers and grew up in a bilingual household. Before becoming a teacher, she studied math at the Lycée Hassiba Ben Bouali and received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ecole Nationale Veterinaire in Algiers. She moved to New York in 1996 and began teaching at FIAF in 2002. She has taught French as a second language to both children and adults, and has been active in FIAF’s summer camp program for more than a decade.
Born and raised in Paris, Christine Chiorino has lived in the south of France, Italy, Canada, and the U.S. Christine taught biology and chemistry in the French educational system, at Lyceum Kennedy and Lycée français, and has also taught drama to kids ages 3 to 14 at LFNY, helping them develop “voice and speech” skills. Outside of teaching, Christine has dubbed for various language program agencies and for NBC. She has an English degree from Université Toulouse Le Mirail, and from Hunter College.
Fanny Cousin-Schwab was born and raised in Paris where she studied Foreign Languages and Literature at the Sorbonne University. In 2009, she received her post-graduate certification to teach English and French as a foreign language. She has taught all levels of French at various international schools in Paris, Montpellier, Washington, D.C., and London. Now based in New York, she joined FIAF in June 2019. Fanny’s experience includes teaching employees of international organizations such as the World Bank, MSF, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. She has also prepared students to take the DELF and DALF exams. Alongside her passion for teaching, Fanny enjoys learning Japanese and travels to Japan regularly.
Léa Crouïgneau is from Bayonne, France. She studied English at the University Montaigne in Bordeaux and the University of Chester, England. She then obtained her Master’s degree in English with a focus on teaching, from the Institut Charles V at the University Diderot in Paris. She was an English teacher for the French public schools of the « Éducation Nationale » for six years before following a training to become a French as a second language teacher, and moving to New York.
Gila Daitz started her career in Education in the Public School System in Switzerland while completing her BA degree in Psychology. After being certified as a Montessori Educator in London and later obtaining her Masters in Multicultural Education from New York University, she continued teaching in New York City, mostly in French-English bilingual institutions. Gila is also a Certified Parent Educator through the Positive Discipline Association and is trained as a Professional Coach, facilitating workshops and seminars. Having lived in several countries with very diverse cultural and linguistic landscapes and being fluent in 3 languages, she highly values the socio-cultural subtleties that come along with the acquisition of a foreign language.
Venus Darius completed his high school and university studies in the French system in Port-au-Prince Haiti and Quebec Canada. He received a certificate in French literature and philosophy, a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in developmental sciences. He has taught French and French literature at the secondary level, and has taught French and Creole courses in higher educational institutions for more than 10 years. During his doctoral studies in education at Laval University in Canada, from 2011 to 2016, he worked part-time at the Faculty of Education as a research and teaching assistant and co-taught at the Bleu Mambo Latin and social dance school in Quebec City. Since 2016, Venus has worked as a teacher, face-to-face and remotely, in several university institutions in the French-speaking world. He joined FIAF New York this fall with great motivation to put his multicultural knowledge and experiences at the service of Francophiles.
Christine Dawson was born and raised in Revel, a city in the Southwest of France. After studying Law in Toulouse, she moved to New York in 1997. She headed the French Department of a language school and taught in French banks (Société Générale, Calyon, Natixis, etc.) and in various French companies (AXA Equitable, l’Oréal, etc.) for over ten years. In 2007, she started teaching French to children. She joined FIAF in 2014. She currently teaches – in person and online – students of all ages and all levels. In addition, Christine loves spending time with her family, playing Scrabble, reading, practicing Hatha Yoga and meditation.
DE JONG, Dorine
Dorine de Jong grew up in Narbonne, France. She has always been passionate about languages and sciences. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Germanic languages and literatures and a Master’s degree in Language sciences and French teaching from Normandy University. In addition, she is a biomedical engineer and a Doctor in Oncology (PhD in molecular radiotherapy). She started teaching French in 2008 and has experience with all levels and ages. Before joining FIAF, she taught French at the French Institute of the Netherlands, as well as French for diplomacy, international relations, marketing, and management at the universities of Groningen and Leeuwarden in the Netherlands. She also has 6 years of experience as an official examiner for the DELF certifications from the French Ministry of Education. In addition to her work at FIAF, she is also an oncology investigator at MSKCC. Dorine is fluent in English, Dutch, and Spanish.
Fatima Douiou has been a teacher at FIAF since 2002 and has more than two decades of teaching experience. She studied education and French at the Ecole Normale de l’Enseignement Supérieur. Before joining FIAF, she was a high school teacher and guidance counselor for international students at the New Immigrants Program of the New York YMC. In addition to teaching, she tutors students for the SAT and AP tests, and is an active jury member for the TEF and TefaQ exams.
Wissal Dubos was born and raised in Morocco before moving to France with her family at the age of 13. She worked as an educational assistant for French middle schools in Bordeaux, while also working at an activities center with kids and teenagers. Wissal worked as an au pair in 2017 and 2018 in New York. She returned to France in 2018 in order to study at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne, where she obtained her university degree in Social Work and Sociocultural Animation. Wissal joined FIAF upon returning to New York in the summer of 2021.
Stéphanie Durand was born in Paris. She received her Master’s degree in French as a Foreign Language, and a Bachelor of Arts in English language, Literature, and Civilization from the Sorbonne University. She has been working with students of all ages for the last 18 years. She worked in both France and the US in luxury, financial, and public organizations. She has also created learning programs and led many to pass worldwide recognized tests and diplomas. In her spare time, she is a ceramist, photographer, and writer. A Parisian at heart, Stéphanie never misses an opportunity to convey her passion of French culture and give valuable insights about life in France.
Louise Egan has been teaching private English classes in New York for over 12 years. She specializes in all aspects of the language: conversation, grammar, pronunciation/accent modification, and writing (for business and general purposes). In addition, she can provide business interview and presentation coaching, as well as a cultural understanding about life in New York and the United States. Her classes are tailored to each student’s needs and interests and are truly dynamic and interactive. Her clients include: The Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, Google, IBM, Air France, Johnson & Johnson, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, AIG, La Durée, The Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations, L’Oreal, Macquarie, Credit Suisse, UBS, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Société Générale, Philip Morris, Chanel, and many private individuals.
Mehdya Fassi is a Moroccan teaching artist, storyteller, and director. Mehdya studied at HB Studio and holds a Theater Degree from l’Ecole du Jeu, Paris. She enjoyed every part of her 4 years of experience teaching French and Acting to kids and adults of every level. Mehdya loves developing a curriculum that matches the needs of each student she works with and loves to use art, pedagogy, and directing tools to teach. As an artist, credits include Le Cirque d’Hiver, La Bellevilloise, Le 104, The New Ohio Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, Manhattan Rep Theatre, The Italian Cultural Center, Dixon Place, Target Margin Theater.
Amélie Flies was born in Belgium to French-speaking parents. She grew up in Japan and attended International Schools as part of a scholarship program. Amélie has a Master’s degree in Asian languages and communication. Amélie previously worked as a Japanese Interpreter before acquiring her teaching qualification in England, she has over 10 years’ experience working in public and private schools in England and Japan.
Sophie Forst is a Paris native and lived in Switzerland and Algeria before moving to the United States. She has been teaching French since 1996. In addition to teaching, she works as a cross-cultural consultant and a translator specializing in art, law, and finance.
Hugo Fortin is from a small village in the French Riviera. He studied philosophy, literature, and humanities at the Lycée Henri IV in Paris. He obtained two degrees from Sorbonne University in philosophy and geography then got an MFA from the École des Beaux-arts. He worked in Paris as an artist and managed an artist-run space in the 11th arrondissement. He also worked as an assistant curator and a public relations assistant in the arts field. He moved to New York in 2015 and started giving French classes before joining FIAF in 2018. He is now a certified DELF-DALF examiner and specializes in literature classes. Hugo also writes about photography, gives sightseeing tours of the city, and always enjoys a nice conversation with a good bottle of wine.
Philippe Foucher is from Tours, a city known for having the best spoken French in France. Philippe has a B.A. in English and a master’s in French as a foreign language from the University François in Tours. From 1982 to 1985, he was a teaching assistant at Harvard University. He also spent 10 years in London teaching at the University of North London and the Alliance Française. He joined FIAF in 1999. In addition to teaching, Philippe enjoys riding his bike, swing dancing, and sailing.
Klervi is from Rennes, France. She holds a Master’s degree to teach French as a Foreign Language. She was a French teaching assistant in a primary school and a high school for a few months in Australia. In France, she taught in a middle school for one year and gave private classes for five years before joining the FIAF Montclair team in October 2018. She likes sports, dogs, travels, street photography, and drawing (which is always welcomed in the kids’ classes).
Aurélie was born and raised in Lyon, France. She graduated from an optical school ISO (Institut Superieur d’Optique) and became an optician in 2005. Interested in travel, she worked as a French tour operator in Egypt, Greece and Sicily. Aurélie came to the United States in 2011. She moved to New York in 2013 and started to work at FIAF in 2014. Aurélie is a certified DAEFLE (Diplôme d’Aptitude à l’Enseignement du Français Langue Etrangère) teacher.4.
Originally from France, Alexandra Girardo has a bachelor’s in modern foreign languages from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and a degree in French as a foreign language from the University Stendhal in Grenoble. Before joining FIAF, she taught at the Centre Culturel Français of Milan, IULM University of Languages and Communication, and the University of Milan. She has taught classes in business, translation, and general French, and is a certified examiner for the DELF/DALF exams.
Dominique Grunwald was born in France. She graduated from one of France’s leading business schools and holds an MBA. After a career in finance in large multinational businesses in France and abroad, she decided to embrace the teaching profession and obtained the DAEFLE – Diplôme d’Aptitude à l’Enseignement du Français Langue Etrangère. She became a high school teacher in Moscow, Russia at both the Anglo-American School and at the Lycée Francais. More recently, she was taught adults in London before moving to New York and joining FIAF. She has a broad experience of teaching children, teenagers, and adults, both in groups and individually.
Yasmine Hassani was born and raised in Bordeaux, France. Before joining FIAF in 2015, She worked for 5 years as an ESL and French literature teacher for the French Ministry of National Education. Yasmine attended Université Michel de Montaigne and IUFM in Bordeaux, later moving to Florence, Italy to pursue her career as a teacher and translator. In addition to tutoring for both children and adults, she has taught in public schools and given private lessons to clients at well-known fashion companies.
Nadège Hispa was born and raised in Paris, France. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Paris XI, she decided to move abroad to discover new cultures and languages. While living in Vienna, Austria, Nadège discovered her passion for teaching while giving French lessons through the “France Education International” program. Her teaching experience encouraged her to specialize in education and obtain a master’s degree in sociolinguistics and teaching French as foreign language from the University of Aix-Marseille. Nadège subsequently moved to Italy and the United Kingdom where she gained valuable experience as a French teacher. She also taught French to different audiences in Paris, France. Nadège recently moved to New York to start a new chapter in her teaching journey at FIAF.
Soha has taught French to middle and high school students for 13 years. She was the principal of a French-bilingual school, and the pedagogical consultant for ten French-bilingual schools. She joined the French Institute – Alliance Française of New York in June 2012. She holds a Master’s degree in Educational Sciences from University of Nantes (France), a certification of “Trainer of Trainers” from the University of Besançon (France), and a title of “Training and Development Specialist for Teachers and Pedagogical Leaders”. Recognized for her efforts in promoting the French language by the French Prime Minister and the French Minister of National Education, she was given the title of “Knight” in the order of Academic Palms. In addition to teaching at FIAF, Soha also lectures at the City College of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Fordham University, and the United Nations.
Charlotte Jimenez grew up in Lyon, France. She received her master’s degree in teaching French as a foreign language. After her studies, she moved to Spain to learn Spanish. During her time there she spent five years in Seville teaching French to both corporate clients and children. Upon moving to New York, she has continued teaching French to all ages.
Cécile Kestenbaum grew up in the Paris area. She received her master’s degree in teaching Spanish from the University of Paris Ouest la Défense and completed the competitive test to become a certified teacher (C.A.P.E.S.) in France. She taught middle and high school students for about ten years, where she organized trips and exchanges in Madrid to foster language learning. She then lived in Seattle, WA for seven years where she started her French teaching journey at the Department of Defense and at the Alliance Française de Seattle, until her relocation to New York in 2020. She became a certified French teacher from the Alliance Française de Vichy and is working on her Masters of French as a Foreign Language from the University of Clermont-Ferrand. When she is not teaching French or Spanish, you can find Cécile on a yoga mat, playing with her two feline children, reading, or checking out independent movies.
Marie-Hélène Koffi-Tessio was born in Togo, West Africa, and grew up in the south of France. She completed her B.A., M.A. and Diplôme d’Études Approfondies in English at the University of Paris 3 where she also trained to teach French as a foreign language. In the United States, she earned a Master’s degree in French and taught in various places: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Columbia University, Middlebury College and University of Virginia. Her interests include: international relations, languages, art, and literature.
Céline Lacroix was born and raised in France, near Paris. She holds a Masters degree in Research and Film Studies from Université Paris 8, Vincennes Saint Denis. In 2020, she moved to Missouri, where she became a French substitute teacher at Académie Lafayette, a French Immersion Charter School in Kansas City. During COVID, she taught French, from Kindergarten to 4th grade, switching between online and in-person classes, and discovering her passion for French education. She joined FIAF in New York to pursue her dedication to teaching French. In her free time, Céline loves cooking French dishes, watching TV shows, and playing with her black cat, Dracula.
Nasser Larkem was born in Villeneuve d’Ascq in the north of France. He received a degree in applied foreign languages from the University of Charles-de-Gaulle in Lille, as well as a master’s in history from New Mexico State University. Before coming to FIAF, he taught at the Centre Franco-Saoudien in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and served as an interpreter of French, Spanish, and English for the French national soccer team during the World Cup championships.
Sylvie Larue has comprehensive experience teaching all age groups, from toddlers to adults. She studied French as a second language at the University of Rouen and German literature and Japanese at the University of Orleans, France. Before coming to FIAF in 2013, Sylvie worked as an instructor at the University of Osaka Gakuin in Japan and at the Alliance Française of Puebla in Mexico. Between 2014 and 2015 she was the director of FIAF Montclair.
Guillaume Légaré has extensive experience teaching students of all ages, from children to adults. He is the creator of FIAF’s photography workshop program for kids, and has developed a unique method of teaching French through art. Guillaume was born and raised in Québec City, Canada. Before joining FIAF, he studied visual arts at University Laval, Québec, Canada and completed his master’s in art at the University La Sorbonne in Paris, France. Guillaume lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Audrey Lordinot was born and raised in Martinique, a French Caribbean island. She has a degree in English studies from Université Paris 3 and has received her DAEFLE certification (Diplôme d’aptitude à l’enseignement du Français Langue Etrangère). She has worked with children from various backgrounds, teaching French and English. She also has a degree in cultural management and has a great interest in cultural life. She moved to New York in 2019 and joined FIAF in January 2021.
Cécile Markazi is from Paris, France, where she studied Corporate and Tax Law at the Université of Paris II Sorbonne Assas. She taught French for over 15 years in corporate settings, private classes, and group classes before joining FIAF, where she works with both kids and adults. Cécile organized and held a weekly informal French speaking gathering in New York for over 2 years. In addition to teaching, she is a Pilates instructor and a licensed real estate agent. She also has an interest in permaculture and veganism.
Pascale Midy is a native French speaker. She received a Master 1 in Economics with a major in International Economic and Development from La Sorbonne University Paris I. She worked as an economist under the supervision of the World Bank for about 10 years. She embraced the career of teaching French as a foreign language (FLE) when she arrived in the US in 2006. During all those years, she has taught students of all ages, backgrounds and levels. She also taught Business French in both group and private classes. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion of the French language and culture. She joined FIAF when she moved to New York City in August 2018. Along with her 11 years of teaching experience, she brought with her knowledge of the Alliance Française system from Houston, Texas and the set of teaching tools she had developed there. Her passion, patience, communication skills, and devotion have won her high praises and respect from FIAF students.
FIAF Manhattan & FIAF Montclair
Sosthene Mikala is a bilingual interpreter and teacher with over 18 years of professional experience in legal and educational environments. He works with global leaders within the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, and The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in democracy and cultural pluralism from the New School University, as well as certificates in language proficiency and communication from New York University. Prior to coming to FIAF in 2009, Sosthene taught French and English at Barnard College for 3 years. He also taught French for 6 years at Prep for Prep, a school in Manhattan that develops ethical and effective leaders who reflect our diverse society for the enduring benefit of all.
Yvonne Minor is originally from La Dordogne, France. She received her master’s degree in French and worked as an interpreter before becoming a teacher. She has extensive experience teaching French to diverse ages and levels, including AP courses in public and private high schools in New Jersey.
Alexia Morand was born in French-speaking Switzerland. She first graduated in economics and later decided to become an elementary school teacher. She holds an elementary school teaching certification from the Ecole Normale of Fribourg, Switzerland. She also holds a Master’s degree in psychology and in education from Regina Mundi, Fribourg, Switzerland. She has been living in New York for 8 years and has worked as a marketing manager for a French American design company. She taught French to adults (for example workshops at Dyptique Perfume New York) and did counseling for schools and for private patients. She has a passion for ethology, particularly concerning Apes. She loves sewing, painting, and also acting. In winter 2015, she started with FIAF, teaching the à petits pas program, part time, in Brooklyn.
Yuna Ngal was a French teacher at the Alliance Française de San Francisco for nearly 10 years before joining FIAF. In the Bay Area, Yuna also taught to a diverse audience from toddlers to adults and worked at Le Lycée Français de San Francisco and the French International School of San Francisco. Congolese born, Yuna Ngal grew up in Paris where she studied foreign languages (English and Spanish) from Paris IV La Sorbonne. In addition to her teaching career, Yuna is also a visual artist and studied communications design at Pratt Institute.
Aurélia Nolin is a Parisian actress who worked for Actor Center London and Atlantic Theater Company, NYC. She is also a French awarded Teacher (Unesco-2015). She is a mother of two boys, 9 and 11 years old and her children were born in Sarasota where she lived for a couple of years; she then moved to Manhattan and has worked for FIAF since 2017. She led many workshops for children (Arts and Craft, Sciences, Music and Songs, Creatives Movements) and adults. She also gave classes in the Art of Speaking in Public for corporates. She moved back to live in Sarasota in July 2019 and is giving online classes for FIAF.
Chantal Oldenburg holds a master’s degree in modern literature from the Université de Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle. She has taught French as a second language for more than 15 years, and has also given courses in business French and French literature. In addition to her courses at FIAF, Chantal teaches at the New York University School of Continuing Education and the New School.
Svetlana Pezier was born and raised in Normandie, France. She holds a Master’s degree in Art and Cultural Project Management from the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris and another Master’s degree in cultural and social history of architecture and urban forms from the School of Architecture of Versailles. The latter program included a two-year research project about the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (NYC) that led Svetlana to NYC in 2014 to write her essay that has now been published. She has been living in Brooklyn since 2014 and has taught group and private French lessons ever since. Once Svetlana completed her degree, she became a licensed NYC sightseeing guide to share her love for architecture and the city and started to teach at a Brooklyn private school. In addition, she’s a proud member of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and GANYC (the Guides Association of New York City). Svetlana started teaching adults at FIAF in 2018 and has been teaching ever since. She offers a range of workshops about art and architecture, and some idiomatic expression workshops.
Sergio Puentes grew up in Paris, France where he received both a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology at the School of social research (EHESS). He has taught French and Humanities in South America to adults from 2011 to 2014. After that, he taught social sciences in Spain until he moved to the US. Upon moving to New York in 2017, he has continued teaching French to students of all ages.
Tsiky Rabetokotany joined FIAF Manhattan as kindergarten assistant teacher in the fall of 2019. Originally from Madagascar, Tsiky graduated from the University of Madagascar School of Communication and Journalism with a Master’s degree in audiovisual/TV/radio journalism. She traveled to several countries including Germany, Amsterdam, and France where she was able to develop her communication skills through training programs. Tsiky moved to the US in 2017 with her husband and her 3 boys. Prior to joining FIAF, she worked as assistant teacher and afterschool art and craft teacher for a Jewish day care in New York. As a very crafty person, she owns a small jewelry business. She enjoys singing, watercolor painting, traveling and interior design.
Nicholas Rao was born and homeschooled in Manhattan. He graduated college in 2018 with a BA in philosophy and a minor in Italian Studies from The Catholic University of America. In 2018-19 he worked in France as an English assistant in public elementary schools. His interests include modern languages, classical music, writing, theater, and traveling. He speaks Italian, plays classical violin, and has been to 25 European countries
Resy Rayess has comprehensive experience teaching elementary-aged children. She brings dedication, motivation, and creativity to her classroom and strives to create an environment where the students are eager to discover, explore, and learn. Resy has a bachelor’s of education from the Lebanese University as well as a master’s of French education from Saint Joseph University in Lebanon. Before joining FIAF’s kids and teens program in 2015, she taught for 4 years in elementary schools in Lebanon.
Ginette Reich is originally from Le Mans, France and has a master’s degree in English linguistics, literature, and civilization from the Université du Maine, France. She began her career as a French instructor at the University of Arkansas. She loved the experience so much that she decided to become a teacher. Before joining FIAF, she taught English at public high schools in France and Chile for a United Nations program.
Audrey Rogulski was born in New Jersey and raised near Saint Germain-en-Laye, France. She is currently studying for her BFA in theatre and philosophy at New York University and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. She joined FIAF in 2019, where she teaches the kids and teens programs. She also teaches and tutors all ages in philosophy and French in different settings. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, and going on spontaneous adventures!
Marie Rousseau was born and raised in Paris, France. Marie has an MA in both History and Political Science from University of Paris-La Sorbonne. After graduation, she moved to New York City to work at NYU’s Institute of French Studies and for the magazine France-Amérique. She then worked for an Interior Design Office while writing news articles for French Newspapers, and currently writes a weekly newsletter “Le Kiosque de New York”. In 2019, she got her NYC sightseeing Guide License to share her passion for the city and its history. She’s been teaching all levels of French to adults both privately and in a group setting since 2018 and joined FIAF in the summer of 2021.
SCHWARTZ HARTLEY, Christine
After growing up near Paris, getting a Bachelor’s in English from the Sorbonne and a diploma from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Christine Schwartz Hartley earned a Master’s in Journalism from New York University and practically never left the city again. An editor and writer specializing in art, design and architecture —with staff and freelance experience at Elle Decor, Art + Auction, Architectural Digest, Interior Design and Sotheby’s magazine— she has also reviewed books for the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum and the Village Voice. As a translator, she is responsible for the first English-language translation of a book by novelist Alain Mabanckou, African Psycho, among other works. She discovered a passion for teaching French while getting involved in her children’s education at New York’s first bilingual French-English public elementary school, PS58 in Brooklyn, and working with private clients.
Marie-Lola Sendra was born and raised in the South of France. She received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in French literature from the University of Jean Jaurès in Toulouse. She arrived in New York in 2018 as an intern for the French Cultural Services of the French Embassy. She taught French to adults and children in private language schools, and has often substituted French teachers at the French American School of New York. She joined FIAF in fall 2021. Alongside her passion for teaching and literature, Marie-Lola loves yoga, meditation and traveling.
Originally from Guadeloupe, Gaelle Serichard was born and raised in Paris. She has taught all levels of French to people of all ages. Her experience includes teaching in Dubai and London in different language schools. She holds a degree in human resources and obtained the DAEFLE and a Master’s degree in FLE (French as a Foreign Language) at the University of Grenoble Alpes. In addition to her French teaching background, Gaelle studied English at the British School Center in London. Gaelle enjoys sport, art and music.
Olivia Small was born in Strasbourg and grew up in Paris. She met her New Yorker husband there and moved with him and their 2 children to New York City in 2015. Olivia holds a Master’s degree in law and an executive MBA from University Paris Dauphine. She worked for 15 years in Human Resources. Olivia studied French as a foreign language and received her diploma (DAEFLE) with distinctions in 2018. She joined the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in 2017.
Rémy Souchon is from Lyon, France. Graduating with a performing arts Bachelor’s degree, and a major in Cinema studies, he started his career as a drama teacher and as a standup actor, winning several national festivals all over the country. In 2006, he launched his own drama school and theater company, and wrote, directed, and acted in several shows, kids shows and comedies (« L’Histoire du cinéma en 1H10 pétante »). Also a video game and TV writer, he’s been living in New York City for 3 years where he still acts, directs, and writes for off-Broadway companies. He is also continuing his work as a playwright for a French theater company. His passion for teaching and the French language led him to FIAF where he has been a French instructor since 2018.
Laura Stigter has a dual University degree in Languages, Translation, Interpretation, and in Conservation Biology. She worked for several United Nations organizations and Universities, and graduated with a Master’s degree from Columbia University. Her hobbies are culture, travel, viticulture, oenology, gastronomy, and vegetable gardening. She is also fluent in Italian, and speaks conversational Dutch.
Kaoutar Taghzouti was born in Meknès, Morocco. She studied law and French at the University Moulay Ismail. After graduating, she became trained to teach French and taught at the French Institute of Meknès from 2008-2011. She joined FIAF in 2011 and teaches toddlers, kids, and teens.
Loïc Thommeret studied literature and French as a foreign language at the Sorbonne, and received his Ph.D. at the University of California Davis. He has nearly three decades of teaching experience at the collegiate level. His research in early modern French literature and civilization has been widely published in academic journals, and he has translated numerous books and articles on subjects ranging from French colonization to fascism. He joined FIAF in 2012.
Corinne Torres was brought up tri-lingual, granting her the opportunity to speak French, Spanish, and English in school and at home. She completed formal schooling in the US and spent the summers visiting her family in the quaint and quiet town of Toul, France. Shortly after receiving her Bachelors in French and English and her masters in TESOL, she spent some time teaching in France. Corinne has been teaching French since 2010 and has mastered the art through her work with children as young as 6 months through adulthood. When she is not teaching, she is traveling, seeing a show off-Broadway, or taking a hot yoga class.
Julie Vincent is a Montrealer by birth and by heart. She moved to New York City at the beginning of the pandemic and began working for FIAF in January 2021. Since her arrival, she has taught teens and adults of all levels in private and group settings. She has an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Montreal, during which she focused on women’s literature. Since 2016, she has been teaching literature and French as a second language to U of M internationally recruited teachers. When not working, Julie plays water polo or accumulates laps at the pool.
Aurore Vituret has a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Literature and has taught French and Latin in Middle and High Schools for more than 7 years in Paris and Lyon (France). Trained to teach French as a Foreign Language (Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France), she has also devoted herself to Literature and Latin private tutoring for high school students and French workshops for young people and adult immigrants in France. Since she left for New York in June 2019, she has worked in private tutoring and with several language schools. When not teaching, she loves hitting the gym, discovering other cultures, arts, testing restaurants, and travelling.
Prior to joining FIAF Montclair, Isabelle West worked for 11 years in a French immersion school in New Jersey, primarily in pre-school but also tutoring children between the ages of 6 and 16. Nurse by trade, Isabelle also worked as a pediatric nurse in France and in Switzerland before coming to America where she has worked as a registered nurse and then as a teacher. Her interests include art, travel, cooking, and baking. Her passion is to integrate these activities into the classroom as a vehicle to encourage student creativity and spark a joy of learning. Isabelle was born, raised, and educated in the North of France and has lived in Manhattan and Northern New Jersey, where she raised one child with her husband.
Paul Wimmer has been a tutor and private lessons instructor since 2006. He was born in Marignane, France, and has lived in the New York area for the past 20 years. Paul studied early modern French literature at Columbia University, where he obtained a master’s in French with a specialization in the Renaissance. He also holds a B.A in French and English literature from Rutgers University, where his research focused on authors fluent in both French and English. Before coming to FIAF in 2015, he taught French language classes to undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia for 5 years, and is currently teaching French at NYU and the United Nations.
Adam Zivkovic has been teaching private French lessons since 2016. Growing up bilingual at the Lycée Français de New York, Adam has an expert grasp of both languages. Remembering his initial struggles with the finer points of the French language as a child, he understands what can make French so difficult to English-speaking learners, and has enjoyed considerable success in making the more difficult concepts understandable to his students. Adam’s approach varies depending on the needs of the individual student, but his teaching style remains constant between students – patient and encouraging. Whether you are looking to dive into French literature and culture, work on your conversational skills, or just need to get ready for a Parisian vacation, Adam will gladly guide you through your goals in a professional and friendly manner.