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French and other Immersion students #2877490
08/08/19 12:58 AM
08/08/19 12:58 AM
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Candywoman Offline OP
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I've been pondering the students to whom I've taught piano who were in language immersion at school, namely a program that is intended to churn out a bilingual student after twelve years. Currently I have some Spanish and some French immersion piano students. (I have nieces and nephews in French and German Immersion as well.) Two of my students were in Chinese immersion.

I have never researched this until today. My experiences are that the kids don't really like speaking with me in French despite their schooling. I doubt they're particularly good at speaking French in the end. I do believe they understand French in the end. I notice their spelling, speaking and writing skills in English are poor as evidenced when I teach them music history. Several read English poorly, particularly in their first year of piano.

So I just came to my own private conclusion that it's not such a great thing, and probably limits their enjoyment of English, as in the fun of listening to a teacher with impeccable or comical English.

When I looked online, I discovered to my surprise that immersion programs help weed out kids with special needs, learning disabilities, or behavioural challenges, and can be a form of elitism. Apparently some parents of higher socio-economic status, and an inclination towards helping their kids succeed at school, want their kids to be with motivated kids of similar background, and create a type of "streaming." I believe their intent-- to have their children become bilingual-- is good. I just have doubts they realize their goal. In fact by grade twelve, about half of immersion students have dropped from their respective language programs. After fifteen years or so, the number who can carry on a conversation decreases.

Now this thread will probably devolve into a mudslinging contest so I'll set one rule. Please ONLY tell me your FIRST HAND experiences teaching immersion students (or enrolling your own children in immersion). How do you find their English skills? I'm specifically looking for anecdotal evidence about whether they benefit in the long run.

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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877501
08/08/19 02:08 AM
08/08/19 02:08 AM
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Sydney
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I worked at an international school where many of the students were bilingual or trilingual (occasionally more). This was for a host of reasons: Danish family on transfer, Japanese family returning after posting to the US, children who had never studied in their home country...

The fact was most children thrived and were equally able in two or three languages.
Others - a small minority - seemed poor in two languages. Just as some children do well at school and others do not. Nor was it just related to “intelligence”.

Be careful about generalising from a small sample. Even after contact with hundreds of students I am cautious about drawing conclusions as opposed to observations.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: terentius] #2877532
08/08/19 07:28 AM
08/08/19 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by terentius
I worked at an international school where many of the students were bilingual or trilingual (occasionally more). This was for a host of reasons: Danish family on transfer, Japanese family returning after posting to the US, children who had never studied in their home country...

The fact was most children thrived and were equally able in two or three languages.
Others - a small minority - seemed poor in two languages. Just as some children do well at school and others do not. Nor was it just related to “intelligence”.

Be careful about generalising from a small sample. Even after contact with hundreds of students I am cautious about drawing conclusions as opposed to observations.



Agree 100%! I have personally witnessed/experienced the same thing.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877536
08/08/19 07:53 AM
08/08/19 07:53 AM
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When we lived in Germany, the German kindergarten was cheaper than child care for US parents. My children were too old, but some of our military friends did take advantage of it, and their kids seemed to get an early start on being bilingual. Age may have something to do with it, teenagers might not adapt as easily.

I'm not familiar with immersion in the US. My impression from living in Europe was that children there grew up bilingual and retained it (we lived in an area where their parents mostly could not speak English.) And that US children might pass their foreign language classes but rarely could actually use or retain whatever skills were learned.

One of my children served in the Peace Corps and became fluent in Romanian - there was no choice; living overseas can be forced immersion.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: TimR] #2877549
08/08/19 08:44 AM
08/08/19 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TimR
My impression from living in Europe was that children there grew up bilingual and retained it (we lived in an area where their parents mostly could not speak English.) And that US children might pass their foreign language classes but rarely could actually use or retain whatever skills were learned.

I grew up in an obscure country which used English as its 'international language', taught to all kids in secondary education (age 12 onwards) or from a few years earlier depending on which school they attended. Kids would also have their own native language(s) that their parents spoke, and everyone had to learn the national language in all schools from the age of seven. All school subjects were taught in either English or the national language.

Which means that if your parents didn't speak the national language at home, by the time you're in your mid teens, you'd be fluent in at least three languages - your parents' native language, the national language and English. And kids would switch easily from one to the other.

In my case, English was my fourth language, which I started learning at ten, because at home, my parents spoke one language (a pretty obscure one) but conversed with friends and relatives in another. Therefore, even before starting kindergarten, I was already using two languages.

By thirteen or so, I was speaking to my school mates in English, unless the national language was their first language, in which case I'd speak to them in that, while speaking two other languages at home. All kids took it for granted - there were two languages that you used at school for everything, plus possibly another language that you'd use at home. Science-based subjects were taught in English, whereas history, geography, art etc were taught in the national language. Which made perfect sense grin.

Of course, since making my home in the UK, most of my other languages (which are hardly used in any other country) have lapsed.......and I have been singularly unsuccessful in learning French or German as an adult cry


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877595
08/08/19 10:15 AM
08/08/19 10:15 AM
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It is not clear to me from the original post if you are a native English speaker or a native French speaker or why you would expect or want students to speak to you in French.

It is not clear to me what happens in the school programs where the kids are enrolled or what language exposure they have outside of school.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877643
08/08/19 11:53 AM
08/08/19 11:53 AM
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And how does that prevent you from offering your anecdote Malkin?

Last edited by Candywoman; 08/08/19 11:54 AM.
Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877663
08/08/19 01:03 PM
08/08/19 01:03 PM
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Canada
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This is actually something that I know a fair bit about, since I was trained in it, and I interned with an excellent teacher in a wonderful school way back when.

First, any program is only as good as the teaching by the teacher who him/herself has to know what they are doing - and that teacher may be hampered by her predecessors. The program will be in an institution, and so we have to see how competently the school is organizing it. And finally, as always, there is the cooperation and role of the parents (and students) including how well they have been guided.

I interned in a French immersion school (public) that I think went from K-6, in a grade 1 classroom near the end of the school year around 1982. By this time the kids had had junior & senior kindergarten and most of gr. 1 - so almost 3 years. Language acquisition tends to go in the order of: Hear - Speak - Read - Write. So at the JK level kids were exposed to hearing the language, and I guess speaking was phased in at some point in SK, or occurred naturally. At the grade 1 level, everything was taught in French. As it was explained to me, English was phased in so that maybe 20% English in grade X, 40% English in grade Y. To start with math in English and reading in English would be weaker than for those who had had these subjects in English for several years, but that would equalize. I had no reason to check this out since I was interning in a gr. 1 class.

Parents opting for the immersion program tended to be more involved with their children, maybe more educated or aware.

I don't know how language immersion programs are run in the US. Canada is officially bilingual, with French one of the official languages. Where I interned was a public school, i.e. government-run.

Quote
My experiences are that the kids don't really like speaking with me in French despite their schooling.

Are you a French speaker, i.e. is French a language you naturally speak? Maybe they associate a piano teacher as being part of the English-speaking world.
Quote
I doubt they're particularly good at speaking French in the end.

The kids I saw in this program spoke French readily and well.
Quote
I notice their spelling, speaking and writing skills in English are poor as evidenced when I teach them music history.

The speaking part surprises me, esp. if they are native speakers at home. For spelling and writing, if the system is like what I described, then I'd want to know which stage they are at in the program. Maybe you can find out more at the institution they attend.
Quote
When I looked online, I discovered to my surprise that immersion programs help weed out kids with special needs, learning disabilities, or behavioural challenges, and can be a form of elitism.

I have never run into such a thing. (?)
Quote
Please ONLY tell me your FIRST HAND experiences teaching immersion students (or enrolling your own children in immersion).

Well, I guess I have done that! wink

The caveat being that this was in the early 1980's, and in Canada, and in a city where both English and French are heard and read everywhere. How it was organized here, and how it is presently organized here, may be different from how it is done in the US.

I attended French immersion myself after graduating from high school, in a summer program, just before my university year started. We had a whale of a time. No English allowed, and we tended to stick to it even unsupervised.

Again - HOW a thing is taught, by whom, and the sane construct of the entire program, are all important factors.

Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877670
08/08/19 01:25 PM
08/08/19 01:25 PM
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Sweden
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I have worked in a school with almost only immigrant children, which means that the first language (L1) of most children was not the same language as the one spoken at school and in the country they live in (L2). My experience was that this was no problem for the average child. They became natural bilinguals. But for children with cognitive challenges this was very difficult, and they ended up not bilingual but "half-lingual" - neither proficient in L1 nor in L2. This was in spite of separate lessons in L1.
I have seen shocking examples. Eight year olds who choose the picture of a fork when I ask them which picture is a spoon (L2). Twelve year olds who don't know what is a lion in either of their languages. These were not children with an intellectual disability, and the school had relatively large resources (such as remedial teachers). I am convinced that these children would have benefitted from learning just one language only.

Last edited by Animisha; 08/08/19 01:27 PM.

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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877695
08/08/19 02:21 PM
08/08/19 02:21 PM
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Orange County, CA
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In the school district I used to teach, we have one elementary school that offered "dual language" program in Spanish and English. Several colleagues and I were puzzled by the need, since the district was over 85% Hispanic. The program didn't do anything, really. Most kids were already fluent in Spanish.

In contrast, the district had a "lottery" school. Hello. That's where all the good teachers went and, with the aid of a super-progressive principal, the program blossomed. The downside to that program is that it's only K-8, so the highest achievers by 9th grade were dumped right back into the cesspool where I worked. These kids were Ivy League-bound until they were forced to learn with "everybody else."


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877734
08/08/19 03:55 PM
08/08/19 03:55 PM
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Long Island, NY
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Interesting topic, I feel its somewhat relevant as I grew up bilingual and I believe its one reason my ability to learn languages and music in general always came easy to me. My parents were born in South America and immigrated here 3 years before I was born, I briefly lived with my grandmother in South America for several months when my mother contemplated not remaining in the US- but fortunately my dad intervened and found decent employment in New York City and was able to place me in parochial schools that offered strong ESL and bilingual programs (I dont think they were immersion level). I learned Spanish first as it was my native tongue, and then English sometime around Kindergarten (my parents almost forgot to register me as they had no idea what the age requirements were for schools in NY, lol). I then picked up French in 6th grade as an elective and studied Latin in high school - had no issues with them as I scored the highest in all my classes and received top honors for Languages at my graduation. Eventually I majored in French in college, but learning music took a back seat to other interests at the time.

I agree immersion programs are wonderful, if the parents can also help out at home, and the teachers can develop those skills effectively in and out of the classroom (not easy!). Its funny how European schoolchildren have no issues learning German, Dutch, English and French by the time they are 10 years old, vs your average schoolchild in New Jersey who may only know 2 languages at best.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877737
08/08/19 04:02 PM
08/08/19 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I've been pondering the students to whom I've taught piano who were in language immersion at school, namely a program that is intended to churn out a bilingual student after twelve years. Currently I have some Spanish and some French immersion piano students. (I have nieces and nephews in French and German Immersion as well.) Two of my students were in Chinese immersion.



So I just came to my own private conclusion that it's not such a great thing, and probably limits their enjoyment of English, as in the fun of listening to a teacher with impeccable or comical English.



Now this thread will probably devolve into a mudslinging contest so I'll set one rule. Please ONLY tell me your FIRST HAND experiences teaching immersion students (or enrolling your own children in immersion). How do you find their English skills? I'm specifically looking for anecdotal evidence about whether they benefit in the long run.






Both of my kids did immersion (spanish) from k-12. Both passed the AP exam. Because I was a "house-dad" I volunteered a lot and helped run the exchange program for 7 years which gave me a lot of insight into how immersion works here and in Mexico at least in Guadalajara MX where it's hard to find a non-bilingual (private) school.

You're right, most kids don't become fluent. In our district, one of the five elementary schools is entirely immersion (spanish and japanese) so everyone, parents and kids are on the same page. Volunteerism and fundraising far exceeds the other 4 elementary schools in our district. Grades K-5, the (immersion) children excel phenomenally. When they get to middle and high school they are about 150 out of 1000 students. Peer pressure builds and the kids bond over sports, clubs and video games instead of being immersion kids. It doesn't help that the "immersion" at the MS and HS are jokes and barely qualify as immersion. The k-5 kids are exposed to English from gym teachers, librarian, computer lab teacher, school administration staff (few are bilingual, the union won't allow it to be a delimiter) and the cafeteria/playground monitors. At the middle and high school, what they hear is English 90 percent of the school day. At the end of 12 years, most of these kids see no reason to care about Spanish and just let it go. It doesn't mean that they didn't receive great benefit from the quality of the education and the challenge of working in a foreign language as I show below.

In California, immersion students test in the upper percentiles in ENGLISH skills. No detriment to english skills can be detected except for a small deficit in spelling that disappears by middle school. In our district, The HS valedictorian was an immersion student 3 of the last five years and spelling bee champion 6 of the last seven. English is taught as a subject paced at the same grade level requirements as in any other school in the state. Other core subjects are taught in spanish or japanese. As I outlined above, almost all other activities are in english. English grammar is taught but in K5 spanish grammar is largely ignored except a few niceties of courtesy.

Because I volunteered in the computer lab, the library, the exchange program, and went on most of the field trips, I spent a LOT of time with the immersion kids. Their english is fine and their enjoyment of english is not limited in any way. They get all the same jokes, enjoy the same programs and engage in age appropriate word play as easily as any other child I've ever met. If anything, their minds are more agile in regards to language for the obvious reasons.

After around 16 years shepherding my kids through a bi-lingual public education I remain a big fan and a big proponent of bi-lingual and especially immersion education. It's not just the language though. The real advantage is the commitment that the entire population of administrators, teachers and parents bring to the process.

Kurt


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877741
08/08/19 04:08 PM
08/08/19 04:08 PM
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My granddaughter went through the public school immersion program (Spanish) through Jr high school--not available here in high school. Her English is excellent. In college she majored in Spanish and psychology. Her graduate degree is in what we used to call speech pathology--it is called something else now. She is able to work with all the little kiddos in the schools that are native Spanish speakers.

Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877814
08/08/19 07:31 PM
08/08/19 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
And how does that prevent you from offering your anecdote Malkin?


I certainly wouldn't want to offer an irrelevant or inappropriate anecdote.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: KurtZ] #2877842
08/08/19 09:36 PM
08/08/19 09:36 PM
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Orange County, CA
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Originally Posted by KurtZ
It doesn't help that the "immersion" at the MS and HS are jokes and barely qualify as immersion.

The real reason is that they can't recruit bilingual teachers who are competent teaching subjects in two languages.

The biggest joke is one school's dual language program in Korean. You try hiring anybody who can explain Physics and Chemistry in Korean.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877899
08/09/19 02:23 AM
08/09/19 02:23 AM
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Thank you. Kurt: That helped me because what you're saying is the process is valid even if the results vary.

With my nieces, I'm wondering if they don't listen well to my piano instructions because they're used to having to figure out school by context. In other words, because they're in French Immersion and don't always know what is being said, perhaps they try to figure out by sight or by diving into things. The other day at the zoo, their mother told them not to put garbage into the recycle. They're twins. About a half hour later, the other twin did the very same thing right in front of me. I just couldn't understand how she wouldn't know her sister had already been chided for the same thing. She was present. She heard my sister correct her sister. It was mystifying. Now I think she probably was looking at the whole scene and not listening to anything.

Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2877926
08/09/19 04:46 AM
08/09/19 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Candywoman
I've been pondering the students to whom I've taught piano who were in language immersion at school, namely a program that is intended to churn out a bilingual student after twelve years. Currently I have some Spanish and some French immersion piano students. (I have nieces and nephews in French and German Immersion as well.) Two of my students were in Chinese immersion.

I have never researched this until today. My experiences are that the kids don't really like speaking with me in French despite their schooling. I doubt they're particularly good at speaking French in the end. I do believe they understand French in the end. I notice their spelling, speaking and writing skills in English are poor as evidenced when I teach them music history. Several read English poorly, particularly in their first year of piano.

So I just came to my own private conclusion that it's not such a great thing, and probably limits their enjoyment of English, as in the fun of listening to a teacher with impeccable or comical English.

When I looked online, I discovered to my surprise that immersion programs help weed out kids with special needs, learning disabilities, or behavioural challenges, and can be a form of elitism. Apparently some parents of higher socio-economic status, and an inclination towards helping their kids succeed at school, want their kids to be with motivated kids of similar background, and create a type of "streaming." I believe their intent-- to have their children become bilingual-- is good. I just have doubts they realize their goal. In fact by grade twelve, about half of immersion students have dropped from their respective language programs. After fifteen years or so, the number who can carry on a conversation decreases.

Now this thread will probably devolve into a mudslinging contest so I'll set one rule. Please ONLY tell me your FIRST HAND experiences teaching immersion students (or enrolling your own children in immersion). How do you find their English skills? I'm specifically looking for anecdotal evidence about whether they benefit in the long run.






As of now, I am also planning for the same online programs that help weed out kids with special needs, learning disabilities, or behavioural challenges. But before start it, I wanted to know any reviews who already did it with successful experience. So, after looking this thread, its clear for me. Thanks for sharing.

Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2878073
08/09/19 01:35 PM
08/09/19 01:35 PM
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Posts: 31
Canada
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Here is first hand parent experience for you.

When we moved to Canada (Ontario) 20+ years ago we only spoke English (no French). Russian is my first language. By age 5 my daughter spoke and read both English and Russian. I only spoke Russian at home with her at that point. I never "taught" her how to read in English, but I provided unlimited access to library and we brought backpacks full of books and those cassette-books where you can read and listen.

At age 5 we enrolled in SK (senior kinder-garden) French immersion program which we continued for 5 years. My reasoning was simple - French is second official language in Canada and I couldn't teach it myself as I do not speak French. We went to "open house" and met the teacher, talked to other parents and decided to try. You are right about kind of "elitism" of the program. But not in negative sense. It looked to me that we were in company of parents who wanted to give their kids more opportunities in life, better chances to succeed in the future.

We move from French Immersion program to "gifted" program in grade 4, because my daughter showed so well during the "gifted" testing. I don't think she is any kind of genius, but she does have excellent memory and just very diligent, so I suspect when other kids were goofing around she patiently answered all the questions and did all the puzzles (loved puzzles that kid).

So, until high school, I talked to every teacher she had and asked them to give her opportunity to do French studies on more advanced level since she was far ahead of her classmates and it was generally taken into account, but not as much as we liked. But she maintained "confidence" with French through middle school.

In High School. she took advanced French classes every year (as opposed to required ONE French class in 4 years of Canadian high school).

Fast forward to now. She graduated from University last year with double major - Linguistics and Translation. She is working as bilingual writer now. Her English is her best language and now it's our main language for communication at home as well.

I was always under impression that the more languages you learn, the better off you are. I've never heard of students here in Canada with poor English because they went to French immersion, maybe because English is the main language (except in Quebec) and in informal environment this is the language kids choose to use.


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Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2878158
08/09/19 07:48 PM
08/09/19 07:48 PM
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*sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted by Candywoman


With my nieces, I'm wondering if they don't listen well to my piano instructions because they're used to having to figure out school by context. In other words, because they're in French Immersion and don't always know what is being said, perhaps they try to figure out by sight or by diving into things. The other day at the zoo, their mother told them not to put garbage into the recycle. They're twins. About a half hour later, the other twin did the very same thing right in front of me. I just couldn't understand how she wouldn't know her sister had already been chided for the same thing. She was present. She heard my sister correct her sister. It was mystifying. Now I think she probably was looking at the whole scene and not listening to anything.


My FIRST HAND experiences of monolingual, bilingual, multilingual children enrolled in traditional, dual language immersion, or L2 immersion contains many instances of children not listening to adults, especially their primary caretaker, who is in most cases, their mother.


Learner
Re: French and other Immersion students [Re: Candywoman] #2878170
08/09/19 08:57 PM
08/09/19 08:57 PM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,214
C
Candywoman Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
Candywoman  Offline OP
1000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,214
Thank you InitK and everybody. These are exactly the stories I wanted to hear. I'm learning that it's what you put into it that counts.

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