Free EFL/ESL Lesson Plan: Telling the Time in English


For many EFL/ESL students, particularly those who don’t live in western countries, learning how to tell the time in English can be difficult. In Thailand, for instance, the daily time is split up into four segments, unlike two like in the west (am and pm) so trying to figure out what time it is in English is a puzzle. That’s why I created this lesson plan for beginner EFL/ESL students to help them learn how to tell the time. It’s not only easy, it’s fun too.

Expected Learning Outcome – Students will learn how to tell the time, quickly and easily.

Materials and Resources – Whiteboard markers, whiteboard, “Time Vocabulary” handout and a card with movable hands or a clock face. ‘Snakes and ladders’ game on the whiteboard.

Teaching Procedures:

Step One: Distribute “Time Vocabulary” and go through each possible time statement, eg: “It’s one o’clock”, “It’s five past one”, “it’s quarter past one”, “it’s half past one” etc. Do this at least twice, and have students repeat vocabulary after you to be sure they can pronounce it.

**In Thailand when I teach time, I make sure I go over the information several times as, unlike telling the time in the west, in Thailand the clock is split into four regions instead of two (am and pm), so Thais who are beginner EFL/ESL students can get confused. If you’re teaching children who come from a country where the time is not told like in the west, you may have to spend more time explaining how we tell the time in am and pm zones to be absolutely sure they understand.

Step Two: Using a card with movable hands and a drawing of a clock or an actual large clock face, create different times and choose a few students to tell you what time it is. I then usually choose one or two kids to come up to the front of the class, create a time for themselves on the clock then choose one of their friends to say the correct time.

Step Three – Snakes and Ladders Time Game – Before class begins, draw a ‘Snakes and Ladders’ game on the whiteboard with ladders for players to climb up and snakes for them to fall back down.

Put students into teams. Explain that one member of each team will throw the dice when it’s their teams turn. After the dice has been thrown, the teacher creates a time on the time clock and the team has to say what the correct time is. If they get the time correct, they then get to move on the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board. Each team takes a turn throwing the dice, answering a time question and moving on the board. If they answer the time question incorrectly, they miss a turn and their turn goes to the next team in line.

First team to the end of the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board (or the one closest to the end if class is coming to a close), wins.

*** Learning to tell the time can be boring, particularly for young kids. But if you combine learning the time with a fun game like ‘Snakes and Ladders’ it’s amazing how much faster they learn how and, playing as a team, they don’t feel too much like they’re being put on the spot.

More Information:

Telling the Time For EFL/ESL – Presentation (excellent visuals to use with a computer and projector in class)