# Absolute Beginner English Telling Time

Telling the time is a basic skill that most students will eagerly acquire. You will need to take some sort of clock into the room. The best clock is one that has been designed for teaching purposes, however, you can also just draw a clock face on the board and add various times as you go through the lesson.

Many students might be used to a 24-hour clock in their native culture. To begin telling time, it's a good idea to just go through the hours and make students aware of the fact that we use a twelve-hour clock in English. Write the numbers 1 - 24 on the board and the equivalent time in English, i.e. 1 - 12, 1 - 12. It is also best to leave out. 'a.m.' and 'p.m.' at this point.

Teacher: (Take the clock and set it to a time on the hour, i.e. seven o'clock) What time is it? It's seven o'clock. (Model 'what time' and 'o'clock' by emphasizing 'what time' and 'o'clock' in the question and response. This use of accenting differing words with your intonation helps students learn that 'what time' is used in the question form and 'o'clock' in the answer.)

Teacher: What time is it? It's eight o'clock.

(Go through a number of different hours. Make sure to demonstrate that we use a 12-hour clock by pointing to a number above 12 such as 18 and saying 'It's six o'clock'.)

Teacher: (Change the hour on the clock) Paolo, what time is it?

Student(s): It's three o'clock.

Teacher: (Change the hour on the clock) Paolo, ask Susan a question.

Student(s): What time is it?

Student(s): It's four o'clock.

Continue this exercise around the room with each of the students. If a student makes a mistake, touch your ear to signal that the student should listen and then repeat his/her answer accenting what the student should have said.

## Part II: Learning a 'Quarter to', 'Quarter Past' and 'Half Past'

Teacher: (Set the clock to a quarter to an hour, i.e. quarter to three) What time is it? It's a quarter to three. (Model 'to' by accenting 'to' in the response. This use of accenting differing words with your intonation helps students learn that 'to' is used to express time before the hour.)

Teacher: (Repeat setting the clock to a number of different quarters to an hour, i.e. quarter to four, five, etc.)

Teacher: (Set the clock to a quarter past an hour, i.e. a quarter past three) What time is it? It's a quarter past three. (Model 'past' by accenting 'past' in the response. This use of accenting differing words with your intonation helps students learn that 'past' is used to express time past the hour.)

Teacher: (Repeat setting the clock to a number of different quarters past an hour, i.e. quarter past four, five, etc.)

Teacher: (Set the clock to half past an hour, i.e. half past three) What time is it? It's half past three. (Model 'past' by accenting 'past' in the response. This use of accenting differing words with your intonation helps students learn that 'past' is used to express time past the hour, specifically that we say 'half past' an hour rather than 'half to' an hour as in some other languages.)

Teacher: (Repeat setting the clock to a number of different halves past an hour, i.e. half past four, five, etc.)

Teacher: (Change the hour on the clock) Paolo, what time is it?

Student(s): It's half past three.

Teacher: (Change the hour on the clock) Paolo, ask Susan a question.

Student(s): What time is it?

Student(s): It's a quarter to five.

Continue this exercise around the room with each of the students. Watch out for students using o'clock improperly. If a student makes a mistake, touch your ear to signal that the student should listen and then repeat his/her answer accenting what the student should have said.

## Part III: Including the Minutes

Teacher: (Set the clock to a 'minutes to' or 'minutes past' the hour) What time is it? It's seventeen (minutes) past three.

Teacher: (Change the hour on the clock) Paolo, ask Susan a question.

Student(s): What time is it?

Student(s): It's ten (minutes) to five.

Continue this exercise around the room with each of the students. Watch out for students using o'clock improperly. If a student makes a mistake, touch your ear to signal that the student should listen and then repeat his/her answer emphasizing what the student should have said.

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