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.
Samira Ait-Jafour has been teaching at FIAF since 2001. She holds a degree in education from the Ecole Normale Superieure, and has extensive experience in teaching French as a second language. She has led teacher training sessions and pedagogical counseling at FIAF, and is an official examiner for the DELF and DALF certifications from the French Ministry of Education.
Virginie Ajdenbaum is originally from Normandy. She received her Master of Science degree in France. She worked for telecommunication companies for 15 years before moving to New York City in 2014. She has been teaching French at FIAF for a few months. Her skills and experience allow her to manage diverse groups of students from beginners to advanced students and kids from 5 to 14 years old. She is interested in the arts, history and cooking!
ALLAMAR BONSIGNOUR, Ouarda
Ouarda Allamar Bonsignour move to New York in 2007 and joined FIAF in 2008. Previously she lived in Paris, where she was a publisher for ten years at two well-known French education publishing houses. Ouarda holds a bachelor’s degree in French spoken literature and a master’s degree in French literature and language from the University Paris XIII. Alongside her work as a teacher, Ouarda is a jazz singer.
Claire Allistone was born and raised in Switzerland in a French and English-speaking household. She attended St. Lawrence College in England and later came to the U.S. on a scholarship to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Los Angeles. During her studies, Claire began teaching both French and English, leading to her current career as a language instructor. She enjoys teaching students of all ages, both privately and in a group setting.
Fatiha Bali grew up in the heart of Montmartre in Paris. She received her master’s in information and communication with a major in international affairs and media from the University of Paris VIII. She worked in journalism and PR before moving to New York in 2001. Fatiha taught French at Columbia University and worked as a freelance translator before joining FIAF in 2010. She has created curriculum in French media, arts, and literature, and is a French lecturer at both the New School and NYU.
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.
Charline is originally from Nantes, one of the most up and coming cities in France, known for its lively art scene. She holds a Master’s Degree from Stendhal University of Grenoble in the didactics of teaching French as a foreign language. Charline has lived in 10 different countries. She has worked as a French teacher for the Alliance Française and the French Institute network in India, South America, and Eastern Europe. Before coming to Montclair, she worked for the French Embassy in Ukraine to promote French language. She was the head coordinator of the DELF DALF certification, developed partnerships with bilingual schools, promoted the Francophonie week, and taught in Kiev’s most prestigious universities. She speaks French, English, Spanish and Russian. She recently settled in the United States with her family and joined the enthusiastic and dynamic team of FIAF Montclair in September 2015.
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).
Pauline Boulfroy was born in Amiens, France- a small city north of Paris and hometown of the world famous author Jules Verne- where she studied until the second year of university. She then did a year abroad in the United States to complete her Bachelor’s degree in English and Italian. Back in France, she pursued her education with a Master’s degree in English and Italian Business Affairs at the University of Paris IV – La Sorbonne. She graduated in 2008 and started another Master’s degree at the Skema Business School from which she graduated in 2010. After completing her higher education, she spent a year in Australia to improve her English. She then started her professional career in Paris as a publicist. In 2016, she moved to New York where she started her teaching career, an ambition she had long nourished throughout her education and first professional experiences. Now, she teaches in several institutions around the city among which Fordham University, The New School, Mercy College, JP Linguistics, The International Ballet of Brooklyn, and more.
Bio coming soon.
Helena Brevery grew up in Sedan, France. She received her Master’s degree in teaching French as a Foreign Language from the University of Lille in 2014. She has been teaching in England, Russia, Oman, and China to children, adults, and corporate clients in both private and group classes. She moved to New York and started working for FIAF in January 2019. Helena is a certified DELF/DALF examinator as well as TCF and TEF examinator. With her knowledge of these certifications, she has helped many students with the methodology and techniques to achieve the best results possible.
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.
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.
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.
Hélène was born in Reims, France but lived in Normandy most of her life. She moved to New York in 2000, went to Stony Brook University for a BA in Language Arts and to obtain her teacher certification in 2006. She got her Master’s Degree in French Studies in 2016 at Montclair State University. Hélène teaches French full-time in a public school in New Jersey during the week. She joined the FIAF Montclair team in 2017 to teach kids, teens and adults on Saturdays. In addition to her love for the French language, she has a passion for cooking, baking, music (almost all types) and gardening.
Christine Dawson was born and raised in Revel, a city in the Southwest of France. In 1997, she finished her law studies in Toulouse and moved to New York. She headed the French Department of a language school and taught exclusively in French banks for over ten years. In 2007, she started teaching French to children. She joined FIAF in 2014. She currently teaches students of all ages and all levels. In addition, Christine loves spending time with her family, playing Scrabble, practicing Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi 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.
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.
FLETCHER PIQUE, Anne
Anne is a pure product of the French education system. Born and raised in France, she always had an eye to being an elementary school teacher. She received her teaching qualification in Paris at the Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maitres and has worked in elementary schools in Paris, Normandy and Lille for over 20 years. She has taught English to French children and the last six years she has specialized in teaching the youngest French children to read and write. Married to an Englishman, she is bi-lingual and has spent the last 12 years of her life between London and the north of France. She moved to New York City in 2016 and joined FIAF in 2017.
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 was born and raised in a small village by the Mediterranean Sea. After high school, he moved to Paris in 2006 to study philosophy and literature at the Lycée Henri IV. He obtained two degrees from Sorbonne University in philosophy and geography in 2009, then got an MFA from the École des Beaux-arts in 2014. He worked in Paris as an artist and managed an artist-run space and organized several shows. 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. Hugo also writes about photography, gives unusual 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.
Olivier Garrel is a career teacher and lover of languages. He taught in the French public school system for 19 years before moving to New York in 2013. He studied English at the University of Paris 10, and French as a foreign language at the University of Paris 3. Olivier also received his master’s in plurilingual pedagogy at the University of Maine in France. In addition to French and English, Oliver speaks Italian, Spanish, Greek, and French Creole.
Martine Gauthier has had a lifelong passion for teaching languages. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Paris in French literature and Mandarin Chinese, with a focus on linguistics. She went to Beijing University for two years on a scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has worked as a trilingual interpreter for many years. She has been teaching French at FIAF to students of all levels since 2011.
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.
HENRI DE SAINT CHAMARAN, Claire
Claire Henri de Saint Chamaran was born and raised in Paris. She first studied literature, English, German, humanities, and social science through a two-year intensive undergraduate program to prepare for competitive nationwide exams in liberal arts and economics. She then decided to enroll in journalism studies and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism (print media, audiovisual and online journalism). Following her graduation, Claire worked for 5 years as a versatile TV journalist and anchorwoman on French TV (Canal + group). She presented morning news, news bulletin, and the daytime TV magazine “Lifestyle”, which alluded to fashion, travel, beauty, celebrities and new trends. During her career, Claire has interviewed multiple well-known figures. Since her arrival in NYC in 2017, she has worked as a French instructor for FIAF. Claire is fond of fashion (history and evolution of fashion design) as well as travelling.
Bio coming soon.
Soha Ibrahim has taught French to middle and high school students for 13 years and was the principal of a bilingual school before coming to FIAF. She has a bachelor’s degree in French from Alexandria University in Egypt and a teacher’s training certification from the University of Besançon in France. In 2015, she obtained her master’s in the educational sciences from the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France. In Egypt, Soha led a committee that organized partnerships between schools in Alexandra and Marseille. In 2001, she was recognized for her efforts in promoting the French language by the Minister of French National Education.
Wassilya Imessaoudene has prolific experience working with both French and English-speaking students. She received her bachelor’s degree in foreign languages, civilization, and literature at Charles de Gaulle University in Lille, and went on to teach in England and France. After years in the French education system, Wassilya joined the private sector, teaching business classes at IFG Langues and tutoring for corporations at CDH Development. She joined FIAF in 2008 and has since taught French to all age groups, from toddlers to adults.
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.
FIAF Manhattan & FIAF Montclair
Frédérique Joseph-Lowery is a scholar, teacher, art critic and curator. Originally from Lille, France, she taught French literature in France for 8 years before moving to Atlanta. In Atlanta, she received her Ph.D. from Emory University and served as the coordinator of the French department at Clark University for 4 years. Frédérique moved to New Jersey in 2007, and since her relocation to the Tri-State Area has taught French to FBI executives, attorneys, and Columbia University students. In addition to her successful teaching career, she is a freelance curator, art critic and scholar, specializing in the work of Salvador Dali. She has published several books on Dali, organized exhibitions of his work in Europe and the United States, and is a frequent contributor to Art Press magazine.
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.
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.
Born in France, Romuald Lutungadio’s family roots are in Congo, Africa. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in law and economics from University Paris 10 Nanterre La Defense and is fluent in four foreign languages: English, Spanish, Lingala, and Swahili. Romuald was a mathematics and French teacher at Marie Curie College in Paris for 3 years, before joining FIAF in New York City in 2017. He also volunteered at a church, where he helped students with disabilities.
Nadia Mehenni was born in Nantes, France, where she studied French literature and philosophy. She has an Associate’s Degree in education, a B.A. in psychology and is graduating from Hunter College with a Master’s Degree in bilingual education. She has worked for more than fifteen years as a French teacher with students ranging from 5 to 18 years old in D.L.P. (Dual Language Program) schools. She is also a private tutor for students learning French at school and for both Anglophone and Francophone adults.
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.
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. Guided by her love for culture, Svetlana found the perfect balance between teaching and touring as a guide, while enjoying writing articles about culture in her spare time. She is also currently working on a book in English about French expressions. In addition, she’s a proud member of both the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Whitney Museum. Svetlana started teaching adults at FIAF in 2018.
Béatrice Puja studied math and biology before receiving her bachelor’s in philosophy and comparative religions at Loyola University. She went on to receive a master’s degree in linguistics from the London International School of Linguists, where she specialized in Spanish, French, Italian, and English. Before joining FIAF in 2003, she taught English, French, and Italian at the School of Tourism in Madrid, the Limerick School of Commerce in Ireland, and Tulane University in New Orleans.
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.
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.
Fanny Rocheteau is originally from Le Mans, France. She has been teaching French for 10 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Didactics of Multilingualism specialized in French and a Master’s degree in English Literature and Civilization. She has extensive experience teaching all levels and all ages in various countries such as France, Chile and the US. She has worked in middle schools and high schools, as well as in colleges such as the New School. Fanny started working for the French Institute Alliance Française in 2012. Her classes can be custom-tailored, from conversational French to grammar-oriented lessons to interview preparation. She can also teach French for Travelers and Business French. She is also certified for exam preparation such as the DELF, DALF, TEFAQ, TEF, and TCF.
Guitty Roustai has taught children of diverse ages for more than two decades. She launched FIAF’s à petits pas program for toddlers and helped found the FIAF Preschool. She left FIAF in 2013 to serve as the deputy director at the French American Academy of Jersey City. Before coming to FIAF, Guitty worked as a French teacher at several prestigious schools in New York, including the Dalton School, Fleming, Calhoun, and Lyceum Kennedy, and founded a language school for children. Guitty trained as a teacher in Paris, where she was certified in teaching French as a foreign language to adults and children. She was born in France and grew up in a bilingual home in Iran.
Bio coming soon.
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.
Hayet Sellami has a post graduate degree in international relations from the The Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has extensive experience in teaching French as a second language. Hayet has taught at various French alliances across Asia and the U.S. She is also a sociologist and researcher, and offers workshops and classes in sociology.
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.
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.
Originally from Brussels, Belgium, Benjamin Thys moved around Europe as a teenager and lived in London, Paris, and Amsterdam. He has his BA in Languages from the University of London and an MA from the New School in NY. Benjamin has taught students of all ages and all levels of French at FIAF since 2014. He is also a senior consultant at a communication and leadership firm based in Florida, and regularly facilitates sessions with top leadership at firms like Deloitte, Hilton, and most recently the US Congress. As an actor, he has appeared in 30 films and TV shows, as well as on Broadway. He loves chess, piano, tennis, magic, and surfing. He lives in Brooklyn.
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.
Marie Windal is a native French speaker with more than 25 years of professional teaching experience in multiple areas. She holds a DAEFLE certification in French and has worked as a French tutor since she moved to the US in 2013. She likes to structure lessons around current events and draw upon French Culture, especially art and history, in her activities with students.
Zarina Yonossi was born in Paris. She obtained a degree in French as a second language at the University Paul Valéry in Montpellier, and a master’s in modern literature. Subsequently, she received a Ph.D. in French literature at the Université de Nanterre. She has taught French at various language schools in France as well as to employees of international corporations. Zarina moved to New York in 1991 and has been teaching at FIAF ever since, covering subjects from general French to literature.
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.