Every Saturday morning during the school year, 150 young students from all over southeast Michigan, along with their parents, head to Bach Elementary School, settling in for a day of laughter and learning in Spanish—the language their families speak at home.
The free program, called En Nuetra Lengua (ENL), was started by U-M faculty members Teresa Satterfield, José R. Benki, and Sandra Nuñez in 2010, and is designed to help young children gain competency in Spanish, assist their families in navigating the U.S. educational system, and foster pride in their cultural heritage.
“My inspiration for ENL was both professional and very personal,” says Satterfield. “I’m a linguist. My work centers on bilingual language acquisition, and so I’m naturally fascinated with how young children manage to acquire, organize, and maintain two or more languages. And personally, as an immigrant child once myself, I very much see myself in the children that our program reaches.”