Watch Out For The Hedgehog – Chapter Four: On Vocabulary

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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 Four: On Vocabulary

Almost every day, the kids learn six new vocabulary words. In the next class, we usually review them.

Me: “What’s different about ‘church’ and ‘Buddhist temple’?”

Kid: “Temple they have shiny heads.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘back to life’?”

Kid: “Zombies.”

Me: “No, zombies are dead.”

Kid: “Teacher, they have an onion allergy!”

***

Me: “What are eyebrows?”

Kid: “People’s eye fur.”

***

Me: “What’s a zookeeper?”

Kid: “The keeper of the zoo.”

***

One of my classrooms has the electrical box in it and recently a timer has been fitted to it. Walked into class to see all my students crowded around it, staring.

Kid: “What’s that?”

Me: “It’s a timer. It goes to a certain time and then the lights go out.”

Kid: “Like a bomb?”

Me: “No, it just shuts off the electricity.”

Kid: “Like a bomb.”

Me: “No, it’s a timer.”

50 minutes later: Kid: “Teacher, the bomb says class is over.”

***

Me: “Give me a sentence with ‘require’ in it.”

Kid: “Teacher, in a love letter, man writes to woman, I require you.”

***

Me: “Give me an example sentence with ‘suddenly’ in it.”

Kid: “Suddenly I died.”

***

Me: “What lives in the sea?”

Kid: “A corrupt official.”

***

I asked my class what is ‘dark’. One student stood up, all excited and proceeded to explain the word dark using very animated hand gestures and random English words. He made no sense but I could tell he knew what it meant. His friend calmly raised his hand. I looked at him and he leaned over to the light switch next to him, knocked off the light…and then looked at his friend.

***

Me: “What’s shiny?”

Kid 1: “Diamonds.”

Kid 2: “Ring.”

Kid 3: “Silver.”

Kid 4: “Gold.”

Kid 5: “IRONMAN!!!”

***

Me: “What do you call a child with no parents?”

Kid: “Irish?”

Me: “Um…no. I’m Irish.”

Kid: “No, Colin’s Irish.” (The other foreign teacher at the school)

Me: “No, I’m Irish too.”

Kid stares and shakes his head.

***

Me, to my 7 year olds: “What’s the sun?”

Kid: “It’s the yellow ball in the sky that heats the earth”

***

While teaching the smartest two kids, both 12, in the school in an extra class.

Me: “What kind of things does a designer design?”

AT THE SAME TIME: Boy: “Dresses.” Girl: “Cars!”

Me: “Huh, I woulda thought it’d be the other way around.”

Girl, while laughing: “Yes, I should say dresses and he should say cars.”

***

Me: “What’s a chef?”

Kid: “The restaurant king.”

***

BEST definition of sheep from my student:

Kid: “It’s like a cotton bug….”

PAUSE

Kid: “Baaaaaaaaa.”

And then he drew a picture for me.

***

Me: “Give me a sentence with ‘create’ in it.”

8-year-old kid: “My mother created me.”

***

Me: “What is ‘soup’?”

8-year-old kid: “Andy Warhol likes soup.”

***

Me: “What’s a ‘tail’?”

Kid: “A dog’s antenna.”

***

During the Thierry Henry cheating in the World Cup qualifying playoffs scandal:

Me: “What is ‘cunning’?”

Kid, without missing a beat: “Henry.”

***

Me: “Name something that holds over a liter of liquid.”

Kid: “A person.”

Me: “What? Liquid.”

Kid: “Their blood.” – my seven-year-old student during a math class.

***

Me: “Give me a sentence with ‘hide’ in it.”

Kid: “I hide my panties.”

***

Me: “Give me a sentence with ’empty’ in it.”

Kid: “My head empty.”

And then he stares at the wall looking stoned for a minute.

***

Me: “What’s ‘addition’?”

Kid: “Add…plus i-t-i-o-n.”

Me: “No.”

Kid: “IT’S TRUE!!”

Me: “Well, yes, but not the answer I want.”

Kid: “Give me a point please.”

Me: “No!”

***

Me: “What does ‘adult’ mean?”

Kid 1: “Butterfly.”

Kid 2: “Wing.”

Kid 3: “Blue.”

Me: “Ummm, no. I’m an adult.”

Kid 1: “Ohhh, old.”

Me: “What?”

Kid 2: “Young, very very young….can I have a point?”

***

Me: “What’s a campfire?”

Kid: “Ou ou, teacher, people drink the many alcohol and do the crazy singing.”

***

Me, teaching the word ‘sew’: “Sew.”

Kid 1: “Teacher, movie, Sew…”

Me: “Ummm…you mean Saw?”

Kid 2: “Yes teacher, Jigsaw, very cute, little red paint on face, very cute.”

***

Me: “What’s a ‘buffalo’?”

Kid: “We eat them. At Outback. Buffalo wings. Very delicious.”

***

Me: “What has four pairs of wheels?”

Kid: “A transformer.”

***

Having just learned the word ‘tasty’ little boy points at little girl next to him and says: “You are not tasty.”

***

Me: “What’s a ‘broom’?”

Kid: “A small car.”

Me: “What? No.”

Kid: “YES!! Small car, broom-broom!”

***

Me: “What’s a word starting with ‘f’?”

Kid: “F**k.”

PAUSE

Me: “Well, yes, but I can’t write that down on the board…Next?”

***

Me: “What’s a ‘bouquet’?”

Kid: “When a man and woman love, they wedding and woman throw bouquet at her friends and one friend will catch and the next year friend will wedding.”

Me: “Um…yes, or it’s a bunch of flowers.”

***

Me: “What’s a ‘principal’?”

Kid: “School king.”

Me: “Right, so do you like your principal?”

Kid: “No.”

Me: “Why not?”

Kid: “He has a shiny head.”

Me: “You mean he has no hair?”

Kid: “Yes, and his head, shiny!!”

***

Me: “What is ‘run-down’?”

Kid: “It’s when you run and fall down. Runnnnnnn…..then downnnnnn. Run down.”

This was accompanied by him acting out his fingers running and falling off the desk. Totally not the right answer but an amusing two minutes of class anyway!

***

While reviewing community jobs (police officer/firefighter/etc):

Me: “Who do we ask for help if we are lost?”

Kid: “Car navigation.”

***

Me: “Name a community job. A job that helps the community.”

Kid: “Hof house master!!!”

Pause.

Me: “A barman.”

***

Me: “What floats on water?”

Kid 1: “Juice!”

Me: “Ummm, no….actually I don’t know…but I’m gonna say no. Anything else?”

Kid 2: “Poseidon!!”

Me: “The ship?”

Kid 2: “No, king of the sea!!!”

Me: “I don’t think he floats.”

Kid 2: “HE’S THE KING!!”

***

Studying the environment:

Me: “What’s ‘glass’?”

Kid 1: “A wine bottle!”

Me: “OK, what’s metal?”

Same kid: “Terminator!”

Kid 2: “A transformer!!!”

Kid 3: “That thing from Alien.”

Me: “Ok, I’ll also accept ‘a car'”

Whole class: “Oohhhhhhhh yeah!”

***

We’re studying town buildings / places.

Me: “What’s a ‘post office’?”

Little Girl: “Love letter!”

Me: “OK, what’s a ‘park’? ”

Little Girl: “Couples walk!”

***

Me: “What’s ‘rent’?”

Nothing.

Me: “OK, for example, Chris, I will rent your pencil for this class for $2.”

Chris: (shaking his head and moving the pencil away from the edge of his desk) “No.”

Me: “No, no, I won’t keep the pencil. I’ll give you $2 and I’ll borrow your pencil for one class.”

Chris: “No, give me $5.”

***

Me: “Name something yellow.”

Kid: “A color.”

***

I draw a mitten on the board.

Me: “What’s this?”

Little Girl: “A hand jacket.”

***

While doing listen and repeat:

Me: “Wound.”

Class: “Wound.”

Me: “Bleeding.”

Class: “Bleeding.”

Me: “Sawdust.”

Class: “Sawdust!”

I drop the open-topped board marker. It bounces off my skirt and lands on the floor.

Me: “Oh shi…” (and I stop before I finish the swear word)

Class: “Ocean!”

Me: “Ummm…”

***

Me: “Name something blue.”

Kid: “Blue paint.”

***

I draw a feather on the board.

Kid: “Ou, koala candy!!”

I point at the feather.

Me: “That’s a feather.”

I draw a leaf.

Me: “That’s a leaf.”

Kid shakes his head.

Kid: “Same.”

***

Kid: “What is it?”

Me: “A hoodie.”

Kid: “Why?”

Me: “Why is it called a hoodie? Because it has a hood, I guess.”

Kid: “No, really why??”

Me: “I think that’s why.”

Kid: “Ask Google!”

***

Me: “What’s made of glass?”

Kid: “A smartphone screen.”

***

Me: “What’s the difference between a library and a bookstore?”

Kid: “The name.”

***

Me: “Name an actor.”

Kid: “Megamind.”

***

I taught a movie scriptwriting class to some teenage Italian students one year during summer school. While working on their scripts, one of the boys asked:

Kid: “Teacher, Viagra in English is what?”

Me: “Viagra.”

Kid: “Ahhh, good. How do you spell?”

Me: “Why?”

Kid: “My story, baby eat the Viagra and become ninja and kill people.”

Pause

Me: “V-I-A-G-R-A.”

***

Kid: “How do you spell transsexual?”

Unfortunately this conversation took place in the Teacher’s Room later:

Me: “Transsexual has just one ‘s’, right?”

Other Teacher: “No, two, why?”

Me: “Dammit!”

Other Teacher: “You spelled it wrong, didn’t you? You know the rules, teach it wrong, you gotta reteach it the next class!”

***

Kid, in response to what happens next in the soap opera picture: “I think priest make girl pregnant and she….um….what’s….no baby….um….oh, abortion!”

***

Me (teaching them the word ‘fancy’): “Fancy.”

All: “FANCY.”

One little boy: “Teacher! Alex say PANTIE!!!”

***

Me: “What’s ‘grass’?”

Kid: “If you have the many money and the big house, you have many grass.”

***

Me: “What’s a baby frog called?”

Kid: “A snake!”

***

Me: “What’s an animal doctor called?”

Kid: “A vacation…no….wait….”

***

Me: “What’s a vegetable?”

Little boy: “I don’t like vegetables.”

Little boy next to him: “I don’t like YOU.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘skipping’?”

Entire class, breaking into The Smurfs theme song: “La la la la la la la la la la la!!”

Me: “What? That’s The Smurfs! Skipping is this.”

I skip across the classroom.

Kid: “Yes, you look like a Smurf.”

Me: “Did you just call me a Smurf?”

Kid: “Yes, look.”

He gets up and skips across the classroom just like I did.

Kid: “See, like a Smurf.”

I look unconvinced.

Kid: “I’ll do one more time.”

He does.

Kid: “See. A Smurf.”

***

Me: “Do you have a pet?”

Kid: “No. My friend have hamster but it die. It live on veranda and cold and die.”

Sad but really, all I could think was, ‘how do you know the word veranda?!!’

***

Me: “What can you do in winter?”

Kid 1: “Ohhhh ummmmm teacher….ummmm….it….snow….and ummm….ohhhhhhh play…..um…….snow……..SNOW SURVIVOR!!!”

Kid 2: (looking at her friend) “Snowfight.”

***

While teaching hobbies:

Me: “What would you like to collect?”

Kid: “Money.”

***

While trying to help another kid spell ‘quiet’, the kid writes a ‘p’ on the board.

Kid 2: “No, NO!! Q!!! Q!!!! No P!!! Q….it’s P’s friend!!”

***

I draw a fat person and a thin person on the board.

Kid: “A SNOOOOW PERSON!!”

***

From a written task, describing her friend: ‘She likes brutal.’

Me: “She likes brutal? What?”

Kid mimes killing and stabbing.

Me: “Oh, violence….v-i-o-l-e-n-c-e.”

***

Kid: “My school teacher called me…um….Goguma….It’s potato’s brother.”

Me: “Goguma? That’s a sweet potato. Your school teacher called you a sweet potato?!”

Kid: “He said I am sweet potato!”

Me: “Why?”

Kid: “I DON’T KNOW!!”

***

Kid 1: “Teacher, how do spell crocodile?”

Me: “C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-E.”

Kid 2: “SLOWLY!!!!!”

Kid 1: “C-R-O-C-O-D-I-L-E!!”

***

My grade two student and I have communication issues.

Kid: “Zebra spelling?”

Me: “Zed-E-B-R-A.”

Kid looks at me for a moment.

Kid: “Zed? Like Zee? Same?”

Me: “Yes.”

***

Kid 1: “How do you spell crab?”

Me: “Crab?”

Kid 1: “No, crab.”

Me: “Crab?” (doing an impression of a crab)

Kid 1: “NO, CRAB!!!”

Me: “Crab???”

Kid 2 looks over at Kid 1′s book.

Kid 2: “Giraffe.”

Kid 1: “Oh, yes, giraffe. How do you spell giraffe?”

5 minutes later:

Kid 1: “How do you spell crab?”

Me: “Crab?” (doing the same impression of a crab)

Kid 1: “Yes.”

***

Kid: “Is b-boy a job?”

***

Me: “Name a job.”

Kid: “Mayor!!”

***

Kid: “How do you spell TV?”

Kid next to him: “TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV!!!!”

***

Me: “What makes you relaxed?” (question in the book)

Kid: “Studying English makes me relaxed.”

Me: “Really?…”

Kid: “Yes, it’s very fun.”

***

Me: “What’s an adult?”

Kid: “A big human.”

***

I draw a window on the board.

Kid: “Ou, Denmark!”

***

Me: “What’s a mystery?”

Kid: “How to make a baby.”

***

Me: “Who made the pyramids?”

Kid: “Aliens. Aliens built pyramids.”

***

After explaining to my grade ones what ‘son’ means.

One little boy: “I have a son.”

Me: “No, you don’t.”

Boy: “YES, I DO!”

And then he mimics rocking a baby.

***

While explaining what ‘shelf’ is to my grade ones, a kid starts shaking his head.

Kid 1: “No. No no no.”

Kid 2: “Yes.”

Kid 1: “No!”

They hold a brief discussion in Korean with the first little kid pointing at my scarf and yelling, “JENNY TEACHER, LOOK!!” at the other kid.

Kid 2: “NO! SCARF!!!”

Kid 1 looks at me.

Me: “He’s right, this is a scarf.”

***

I’m explaining ‘roll over’ to my students. They all nod.

One smart-alec little kid: “I can’t understand…Do.”

***

Me: “What’s a vegetable?”

Kid: “Obama.” (and he KNOWS what a ‘vegetable’ is)

***

Me: “What’s a desert?”

Kid: “The sand land!!!”

***

Me: “What’s a pyramid?”

Kid: “Egypt king die house.”

***

On the day it was reported that the rain contained radioactive materials and you shouldn’t touch it.

Kid: “Teacher teacher, water, rain, touch, me die.”

Me: “Um, no.”

Kid: “REALLY?!! I die!!”

***

In the middle of repeating vocabulary:

Kid: “Teacher, I’m hungry.”

Me: “That’s nice. I don’t care.”

Kid: “You don’t have food??”

Me: “I’m not giving you food!”

Suddenly, a piece of candy hits him on the side of the head. We all turn to see one little boy has thrown a candy at him. The kid picks it up and throws it back at kid 2. I take it away from them both and put it on my desk.

Kid 2 has a funny look on his face. I look at him, quizzically. He lifts his hand to reveal a second candy, smiles and then bursts out laughing.

***

Me: “What’s ‘back to life’?”

Kid 1: “A ghost?”

Me: “No.”

Kid 2: “Dead…then no dead.”

Me: “YES!”

Kid 3: “Zombie.”

Me: “OK.”

Kid 4: “Jesus.”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid 1: “Jesus was a zombie!!”

Me: “No…well, maybe.”

Kid 1: “Yes teacher, Jesus was a zombie!”

Me: “Fine, but …don’t tell your mommy I said that!”

***

Me: “What’s ‘proud’?”

Kid 1: “Prize.”

Kid 2: “Prize?”

Kid 1: “Prize. Yes.”

Kid 2: “Chicken?”

Kid 1: “What?”

Kid 2: “Fried chicken?”

Kid 1: “No, no FRIED, PRIZE.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘hungry’?”

Kid: “Stomach…grrrrrrr.”

***

Kid: “Teacher, volcano is…”

Looong pause.

Kid: “…fire water?”

Me: “Yes.”

***

Me: “What’s a sheep?”

Kid: “Lambs grow.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘dry’?”

Kid: “A grape.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘patient’?”

Kid 1: “Many blood.”

Me: “No.”

Pause.

Me: “It’s like if you’re at a bus stop and you wait and wait and wait and you don’t get angry.”

Kid 2: “Ah, disabled.”

Me: “No…”

***

Me: “What’s ‘healthy’?”

A kid jumps from his seat and does a dramatic reenactment of drowning and lies down dead on the floor. I peer over the desk at him and he jumps back up to his feet.

Kid: “Help me! Help me!”

Pause.

Me: “Healthy.”

Kid: “Oh…no”

***

Kid 1: “What’s ‘surfing’?”

Kid 2: “Surfing. On the beach.”

Kid 3: “NOOOOOO!” (makes typing motion with her fingers) “Da da da da chick chick chick, the Internet.”

***

Me: “What are ‘twins’?”

Little boy stands up and makes a motion to signal being fat. He then points to either side of his stomach.

Kid: “Mommy…two…”

***

Me: “What smells bad?”

Kid: “Alcohol.”

Me: “OK.”

Kid: “But not beer. Other…”

Me: “Soju?”

Kid: “Yes.”

***

Kid: “Teacher…bad word? As*hole? Bad word yes?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Son of a b*tch?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “OK good.”

***

Me: “What’s ‘terrible’?”

Kid 1: “War.”

Kid 2: “Die.”

Kid 3: “Kill.”

Kid 4: “Kim Jong-Un.”

Kid 5: “Rain….wet….”

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

Just as a side note, vocabulary, grammar and spelling aren’t really my forte. Ohhhhh the irony! To avoid potentially embarrassing, ‘hey you spelled that incorrectly’ emails, I tried Grammarly’s plagiarism checker free of charge because I’ve learned just because I say something out loud and it sounds both correct and original, doesn’t actually mean it is. It’s always nice to have another pair of ‘eyes’ look over things for you.

Don’t miss next week’s: Chapter Five: On Grammar

For more, check out:

Chapter One: On Love and Relationships

Chapter Two: On Historical Events

Chapter Three: On World Geography

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4 thoughts on “Watch Out For The Hedgehog – Chapter Four: On Vocabulary

  1. Pingback: Watch Out For The Hedgehog – Chapter One: On Love and Relationships | The Ketchup War

  2. Pingback: Watch Out For The Hedgehog: Chapter Five – On Grammar | The Ketchup War

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