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I am learning English at a language school in Korea. Today's topic was about overtime and our teacher who is American asked me how many hours I work per week. I said I cannot concentrate in the morning, so I usually work from noon to midnight.
And the teacher asked me "Are you a prostitute? " I know what a prostitute means. But I don't know if I can take that as a joke or harassment. Anyway I really don't feel good.

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    It was most likely a joke, but one in poor taste. It's harrassment, if you feel harrassed. – Jim Mar 14 '16 at 2:13
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    It was almost certainly a joke, but a very poor one. If it bothers you you should either confront the teacher or discuss it with his superior. – Hot Licks Mar 14 '16 at 2:17
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    I'll add to the consensus: It was a very tacky joke. The teacher is probably either a jerk, or he or she let their guard down and said something they hopefully regret. – David Blomstrom Mar 14 '16 at 2:23
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    Since the teacher is not headlining at the Don Rickles Room on the Las Vegas Strip—or doing stand-up comedy during open-mic night at the Laff Lounge in Lodi, California—he shouldn't be suggesting (even as a joke) that if a student works late it may be because she's a prostitute. The teacher's "just a joke" off-the-cuff innuendo would not be acceptable in U.S. schools either, for the very reason you give: it can leave a student feeling uneasy, insulted, hit on, or simply "not good." So it's not a matter of cultural difference between U.S. and Korean senses of humor; it's inappropriate behavior. – Sven Yargs Mar 14 '16 at 2:53
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    In that case, be brave and report him immediately. If the guy's creeping you out, you're probably not the first one. The school needs to know about the teacher's behaviour, they will probably suggest moving you to a different class.That is a good idea, it will also send a clear message to the teacher. – Mari-Lou A Mar 14 '16 at 7:45
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One of the problems with words is that you can look for the meaning in a dictionary, but as soon as you put it in a sentence the meaning changes, coloured by the words around it and the situation it is used in.

This means that the only answer to your question is "maybe..."

If your teacher was laughing when he said it, it was probably intended as a joke, but that doesn't mean you have to accept it as one. I would call it 'a joke in bad taste' and you are justified in feeling bad about it.

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  • The teacher is a guy. Not she. – Starrover Mar 14 '16 at 2:27
  • Answer amended... – Roaring Fish Mar 14 '16 at 2:29
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i guess it was a joke but not funny at all and absolutely tacky. What English school do you go to in Korea? is it actually school or 'Hak won?

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    Did you not read the comments? Did you not read the answer posted? Asking the user to say "which" school she attends is also counter-productive, and potentially risky. The OP needs to remain anonymous in cases such as these. – Mari-Lou A Mar 15 '16 at 7:10

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