It Starts with a Square

Civil Servant Ginny Mullaney

BY Rachel Spiers

Collierville Literacy Council (CLC) volunteer, Ginny Mullaney, has dedicated over 600 hours of her time in the last seven years teaching English as a second language to Collierville and Memphis suburb residents. Before settling down in Collierville, she taught French and German to high school students in Kentucky and post-retirement volunteered her time teaching English at a local junior college in Florida. Mullaney has always been interested in language. “Once we moved here [Collierville] and I learned about the CLC, I jumped right in. I’ve always enjoyed teaching and the classes have such a relaxed atmosphere,” says Mullaney. “Contrary to teaching teenagers, there are no disciplinary problems!”

Mullaney works with a variety of students from various countries including India, Korea, China, Japan, Yemen, Palestine, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela.. the list goes on and on. “It really shows how international Memphis is! The classes are made up mostly of women and women socialize easily,” says Mullaney. “They (students) enjoy being around other women and some students are from the same countries, so when they meet up in class, they form friendships. Then they go out and socialize with one another and I tell them ‘alright now, y’all speak English while you’re out’ and they just laugh.”

servantEach week Mullaney prepares for class, but says ‘you never know where the conversation will lead you.’ “Here’s an example of what I’ve done today – I took the word ‘ear’ and if you go through the alphabet and put all the various letters of the English alphabet in front of ‘E-A-R’, it shows you how difficult the English language is to speak and spell. For instance, ‘B-E-A-R’ – lo and behold it’s not pronounced ‘beer’ it’s pronounced ‘bare’ which opens up a whole other round of words,” says Mullaney. “And those women’s eyes got so big! You can’t learn English just from reading it, you have to hear people speak it.”

Mullaney was named the 2017-18 Volunteer of the Year for her time and dedication to her CLC students. “I really enjoy it [teaching]! I find it very fulfilling and I’m doing a service, because they’re here in this country, and they want to speak and understand English. They have questions about U.S. customs and peculiarities, at least to them, and I enjoy letting them know all of that information. It’s about making their lives easier and better here.” Mullaney says there is a need for tutors at CLC and “if you speak English, you can be a tutor of the English language!” Make sure to contact the Collierville Literacy Council about volunteer opportunities.

Thanks for helping make Collierville a great place for countless students, Ginny!

May/June 2020 Tour Collierville Magazine