EFL - ESL activities and games to teach questions about time

This article presents some practical ESL activity and game ideas for teaching beginners how to ask basic questions about time. Feel free to use these ideas as a stand-alone ESL lesson plan, or to supplement an existing one on a similar or related grammar topic.

Lead-in activity

The board below is one example of how to introduce different present simple question constructions about time and routine. Step through each type of question, write the beginning part and elicit different endings and sample answers from your students. If you're an iOS or Android user, try this lesson out on the TEFL Handbook app. It gives you offline access to all of our materials, perfect for quick reference in the classroom.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for questions about time | Beginner

ESL activities for questions about time


We want to elicit as much as possible for this ESL speaking activity. With your students' help, you will create your daily timetable. Start by drawing a table on the board with the column headings task and time. Then elicit common tasks from the students along with the average duration of these activities and fill out the table with these ideas. Your students should copy this into their notebooks.

Show them that we can express duration using the construction:

from TIME to TIME

Finally, have them write three sentences about their daily routine using this structure.

Tell me about your day

This ESL speaking activity will challenge your students to apply the target language functionally. If you did the previous exercise, leave the table on the board and have the students interview each other:

Student A: What time do you go to school?
Student B: I go to school at half past eight.

When is...?

We switch tracks to the third person for this activity. Draw a table on the board with the headings activityday, and time. Add the events below and fill in the days and times randomly, add ranges if you think the class is strong enough:

Justin Bieber concert
Real Madrid match
Marie’s Geography exam
John’s birthday party
School play
Mark’s Basketball game

The students then take turns to ask and answer questions using the information on the table:

Student A: When is the Justin Bieber concert?
Student B: It’s on Saturday at six o’clock

ESL games

Hot seat: Routine

The students have to mime an activity to a partner. On each turn, one student will sit with their back to the board, facing their partner. The teacher writes a routine activity on the board. The student in play must then mime this to their partner in the hot seat. After the student has guessed correctly, they must then make a factual sentence about their partner using this activity and a time expression. Depending on the age or level, this game may need some tweaking. Set a time limit if you wish, and give a point for each correct part (Naming the activity, factual sentence).

More ESL lesson plans for beginners

We hope that you've found a few of these ideas useful. Our suggested next lesson is on prepositions of place. Be sure to check out our complete list of ESL lesson plans for beginners (A1 Upper), as well as our entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Also, if you are an iOS or Android user, this lesson plan is available for free on the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers.

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