Author Spotlight-M.A. Demle

Normally, I do not review non-fiction. I am trained in literary analysis; that is, looking for themes and symbolism, analyzing a plot line, etc. However, I had the pleasure of a chance encounter with M.A. Demle and have decided to make an exception.

What I got was an unexpected surprise. As I was reading Demle’s An Immigrant’s Journey to Success: From Illiteracy to becoming a Teacher, I realized that I had a lot on common with the author. Like Demle, I am also a foreign language teacher, and what I have learned while reading his memoir will greatly benefit me in my own classroom.

The autobiography follows Demle from his childhood in rural Ethiopia, his immigration to Israel, his struggles to get the education he desired, his mandatory military service, and finally, his studies at the University where he majored in English Literature and became an English teacher. Demle taught himself both Hebrew and English, and reading his works has given me many valuable tips on how I can better educate my own students in a foreign language.

Demle does not sugarcoat anything; he describes in detail the hardships he had to face as a foreigner in an adopted homeland. He also expresses nostalgia for his native Ethiopia. He ends by stating that he hopes that his own son will not have to go through the same struggles he did to get an education and live a life of his choosing.

What I liked most about the book is that Demle proves that education is the responsibility of the student. Demle studies VERY hard to get the education he needed, and even switched schools when the school he was attending did not offer the course material he needed. Teachers can only provide the information, but it is up to students how to use and apply it. He also points out that learning is in itself a reward. These are facts that seem to be lost on many American students.

An Immigrant’s Journey to Success: From Illiteracy to becoming a Teacher is a very inspirational read. I would highly recommend this for anyone, but especially teachers and students of foreign languages.

To read:


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