Watch Out For The Hedgehog – Chapter One: On Love and Relationships

hedgehog (4)A serialistion of the popular Quote Friday book: Watch Out For The Hedgehog, four years of hilarious kids’ quotes from the ESL elementary school classroom in South Korea. 

Chapter One: On Love & Relationships 

In every school I’ve ever worked at the kids have always been a little more interested in my life than in anything they study in class. Usually after dispensing with pleasantries, names, where I’m from, etc, the kids undoubtedly wander upon the most asked question in Korea: ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’

Some kids ask it before they even find out where I’m from.

I was working in a private school for a while where the kids took extra lessons outside of elementary school. It was across the road from the elementary school. Two eleven-year-old boy students tried to set me up on a date with their elementary school’s native teacher:

Kid 1: “Teacher, Smith, very nice. You 26. He 27. Perfect. I will give you his phone number. Marry?”

Me: “Um…no.”

Kid 1: “You can be dating then. I will bring you his picture.”

Kid 2: “Oh yes teacher, it’s a romantic story….”

Kid 1: “You can write a love letter to him.”


Practicing conversations about letters and mail in class:

Boy 1: “Yes, I write letter. To my friend. She move to another land. She write to me ‘love me’. I was scared.”

Boy 2: “I write bottle letter. I throw at my friend’s house. It broke his window. Our friendship exploded. We are not friends.”

Kid: “Teacher, Irish tradition, get married where?”

Me: “In a church usually.”

Kid: “Ahhhh, Christian country…I see.”

Kid 2: “When you marry Smith Teacher, in church, yes?”

Me: “I am not marrying Smith Teacher.”

Kid: “But why?!!!”


Kid 1: “Teacher, you have boyfriend?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid 2: “He Korean?”

Me: “No, he’s Canadian.”

Kid 1: “Ou Teacher! He is handsome? Like a singer? His skin is bling bling?”

Me: “Ha, yes, he is very handsome.”

Kid 2: “REALLY??”

Me: “Of course!”

Kid 1: “Ou, you are lucky girl!”


Kid: “Teacher, you boyfriend, he will you marry me, you, ok??”


Kid 1: “Teacheryou like….boys….um….big arms?”

She makes a muscle gesture with arms.

Me: “Ehnonot really.”

Kid 2: “Teacher, you likeboysthey….ou, chocolate chest?!” She looks to her friend for help.

Kid 1: “SIX-PACK!!”

I was laughing so much and I couldn’t speak!


Diary quote: “When I 30 years old, I will wedding. I hope my bride will be beautiful” (He’s 10!)


Kid 1: “Teacher, your boyfriend name?”

Me: “Ian.”

One kid looks at me, then stands up, walks across the room to where I keep all the Grade One workbooks and starts sifting through them. He pulls one out of the stack and holds it up.

Kid 1: “Like this?”

I look at the book. It belongs to one of the little boys in the Grade One class named Ian.

Me: “YesHowdidyou know that I have a student called Ian?”

Kid 1: “I don’t know.”

He puts the book back.

Kid 2: “IAn.”

Me: “NoIan.”

I write it on the board.

Kid 2: “Hahahahaha Teacher, change ‘n’ to ‘m’ and write one more time, I AM IAN.”

Then she laughed for a full 30 seconds.


Kid: “Today is my mom and dad wedding anniversary but I’m not give my present but my parents say ‘we’re precious in your and be born’. That time my heart is moved and my heart happy cry.”


While watching a video about Koko, the talking Gorilla, and her owner, who’s a woman, Koko and the owner hug.

Kid 1, pointing at the TV: “They married?”

Me: “No.”

Kid 2: “She’s old.”

Like that’s the ONLY reason the woman and the gorilla aren’t married.


Kid: “Teacher, you boyfriend?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Handsome?”

Me: “Of course.”

Kid looks at me skeptically.

Kid: “Picture?”

Me: “No.”


Rumors spread through the school that the school had hired a ‘hot, Chinese-American boy’ as the new official school English teacher. This is two days later:

Kid 1: “Oh teacher, we have new English teacher.”

Me: “Really?”

Kid 1: “Yes, Haley Teacher.”

Me: “Oh, a girl?”

Kid 1: “No, a boy.”

Me: “Haley’s a girl’s name.”

Kid 2: “No, it’s not.”

Me: “Fine.”

Kid 1: “Oh, teacher, you and Haley teacher, together, love.”

Me: “Umno.”

Kid 1: “Do you have boyfriend?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid 1: “Is he Korean?”

Me: “No, he’s Canadian.”

Kid 1: “Oh, Haley teacher too! Oh, teacher, boyfriend change. Canada. Canada. Boyfriend change!!!”

Me: “I don’t think my boyfriend would like that.”

Kid 1: “Think about it.”

Me: “OK.”


It’s break time and I’m sitting at my desk on the computer, writing school reports and drinking coffee. A kid stands in front of my desk. She’s not doing anything; she’s just standing there. The kids do that a lot. Just stand there and stare at me. Sometimes it’s weird. Other times, I just ignore them.

Kid: “Why you sadly?”

Me: “I’m not sad. I’m tired.”

Kid: “Why you tired?” She scrunches up her face and nods understandingly. “Teaching the kids?”

I laugh.

Me: “No, I’m just tired, that’s all.”

Kid: “No, bed early?”

Me: “No, get up very early.”

She nods and goes quiet. I return to writing my reports.

Kid: “Teacher, you boyfriend?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Really?!”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “You dangdangdada?” (the wedding song)

Me: “No.”

Kid: “When the dangdangdada?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Kid: “How long you boyfriend?”

Me: “Two years.”

Kid: “Two years? Really? You lovely?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “You boyfriend many many love?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Korean?”

Me: “Canadian.”

Kid: “Boyfriend look like?”

Me: “Tall.”

Kid: “Jenny teachertall…?”

Me: “Taller than me, yes.”

Kid: “And?”

Me: “Short hair.”

Kid: “And?”

Me: “Brown hair.”

Kid: “And?”

Me: “Go away.”

Kid: “Just one more..and?”

Me: “And, I don’t know.”

Kid: “Handsome eyes?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Really?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Why no dangdangdada?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Kid: “But ring.” (pointing at the ring on my right hand)

Me: “Not wedding ring.”

She goes quiet.

Kid: “In December, you went to Canada.”

Me: “No, I didn’t.”

Kid: “YES!! You vacation!!”

Me: “No, no, I went to Ireland.”

Kid: “Ohhhh yeah, I think boyfriend Canada, you go to Canadain my headYou go to Canada?”

Me: “Yes. In March.”

Kid: “Visit boyfriend parents?”

Me: “No, to live.”

Kid: “WHAT?! WHY?! HOW?! Jenny teacher no English class???”

Me: “No. I’m leaving.”

Kid: “When?”

Me: “February 28.”

Kid: “Show me.”

Me: “Look, here, this day.” I show her the calendar.

Kid: “You go to Canada?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “With boyfriend.”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “To live?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Dangdangdada?”

Me: “No.”

Kid: “Teacher, boyfriend meeting parents?”

Me: “Yes.”



Kid: “Teacher, me go to Canada and to you dangdangdada?”


I run into the school’s male foreign teacher on my way back from the bathroom and we were chatting. I come to class.

Entire class: “You and Haley teacher friends?”

Me: “Yes.”

One Kid: “LOVE!!”

Entire class: “NO!! Friends!”

Another boy pointing at the boy who said ‘love’: “He’s crazy!!”


Two kids are having a conversation while I’m correcting homework.

Kid 1: “I like tiger.”

Kid 2: “You like Tyler?” (Tyler is a kid in the class)

Kid 1: “No, tiger.”

Kid 2: “Tyler?!”

Kid 1: “TIGER!!”

Kid 2, turning to Tyler: “Oh Tyler, fantastic!!”


We read a role-play where a little girl calls a little boy and asks him to go to the park. I read the first line.

Me: “Hi Andy. Do you want to come to the park?”

A kid stands up and yells: “DATE!!!!!!!!”


Watch Out For The Hedgehog, out now at Smashwords (for 50% off at Smashwords, use coupon code ‘HX78J’), Amazon , Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

For more, check out:

Chapter Two: On Historical Events

Chapter Three: On World Geography 

Chapter Four: On Vocabulary

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