The Team


Valerie Harkness - Director

I am French and I have lived in the UK for half of my life !  I am a qualified teacher of languages and worked in secondary schools for a few years before obtaining my PhD in education. I have taught French in businesses as well as at university, and I worked as a teacher educator for a number of years at Leeds Trinity University before opening and managing AF Leeds.

I have a passion for language teaching and for literature. I am a published writer and love to organize and take part in cultural events.  I offer presentations and workshops in the UK and abroad on French language and culture as well as on aspects of language education and literature. 

I look forward to welcoming you at the Alliance Francaise de Leeds at Leeds Trinity University and the Heart Centre in Headingley.

Contact Valerie:
+44 7717 323716


Jeanne-Marie Edon-Johnson - Assistant Director & Tutor 

I was born near Paris where I grew up, studied and worked. After a couple of years at the Alliance française de Cambridge I moved to the Leeds area in 2016. 

I am a qualified teacher of French as a Foreign Language (Master's Degree) and I have been teaching French for many years and in many countries. I also have a Degree in Linguistics and in Psychology giving me a strong understanding of language acquisition. 

Keen traveler, I have visited and lived in many countries all around the world allowing me to discover many education cultures which taught me the importance of an intercultural approach in teaching.

I am very happy to  be part of the Alliance Française de Leeds and I am looking forward to meeting you in class or at one of our events.

Contact Jeanne-Marie :


Cynthia Rozanski - Admin Officer & Tutor


I am a qualified teacher of French and I moved to Leeds in 2012. 

I have two Masters degrees, one in English Language & History and another in Teaching French as a Foreign Language. I decided to do the latter whilst being a French Assistant in a private Secondary School and discovered that I really enjoyed teaching to a variety of ages. 

My experience is varied and rich. I have worked for Primary schools in Salford and Bradford, but also closer to home in the North of France with teenagers and adults hoping to improve their French. 

In my lessons I use a lot of different materials: games, videos, pair work etc. to try and make French as enjoyable as possible.

Being an Admin officer in the Alliance Française, you will probably see my name in most of the e-mails!

Contact Cynthia:


Saâdia Gamir - Tutor

I am a French and Arabic lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. 

I am a member of the British Association of Teachers of Arabic (BATA), and the Film in Language Teaching Association (FILTA). My scholarly activities are in presenting at conferences (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), textbook publishing for learners of Arabic (2011) and external examining for UK universities IWLP and LFA Arabic learning programmes (2009-2012; 2011-20105).

My research interests are in classroom processes and materials development to increase learners’ motivation and engagement in learning, in general, with special emphasis on developing their intercultural communication and cross cultural awareness.

In addition to studying learner contribution in language acquisition, my current research examines teachers’ use of Film to develop learners’ speaking ability in the target language.

IMG_4423 Saadia 8 x 6.jpg

Jeannette Mcdonell - Tutor

I am French, born in Paris, bilingual in French and German.


I am a qualified teacher and have been teaching both languages for 14 years at University and also in Colleges. I have a Master in ATS (Applied Translation Studies) , I have been accepted at the Sorbonne, Paris IV, to complete my PHD in comparative literature [“Die Leiden des jungen Werther”:   Problèmes de réception en Allemagne, en Angleterre et en France, 1774 -1845] , I have a PGCE (French and German), TEFL and CELTA (teaching English as a Foreign Language), and a Diploma in Italian Language Studies – Business and Culture.

I am also an accredited translator on a book that was published, and I have done translations for OMG (Open Minds Global), Girl Guides & Scout Movement in Africa, and I have been an interpreter for a law firm in Leeds.

I love travelling and I have recently visited Mauritius, the Seychelles and Rodrigues. I have also been to Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, as well as China and Japan. I also spent some time in St. Martin and St. Barthélémy in the Caribbean and Ambergris Caye and Mexico, Yucatan. I also enjoyed Morocco, Sydney and the States and have criss-crossed Poland, Hungary and the old Czechoslovakia by car.



Muriel Cordoba - Tutor 

I was born in Toulouse and grew up in the Alps.  I have been living abroad for more than 25 years, after spending five years in the Netherlands I moved to Britain in 1995. 

I have 10 years experience in teaching French to adults in a university language centre, first at Kingston upon Thames then in Leeds. Next to my teaching qualifications, I have degrees in History and Cultural policy which gives me a broad cultural knowledge that I can apply in my teaching.

I am looking forward to meeting you at the Alliance Française de Leeds.