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CultureLesson Plan

The Concept of Time in American Society

Teacher: Stephanie Ashton

Age: High school/adults
Level: Intermediate/advanced
Language: ESL
Time: Two days, 50 minutes each


NOTE: This should be done towards the beginning of the semester so students will have more time to accomplish the goals they learn to set in this lesson.


Learning/Teaching Activities:


Pass out cultural assimilator. Have students read it silently and mark their answer. Divide class into groups according to what they answered. Have students discuss in group why they chose that answer. As a class discuss what the correct answer is and why.

Explain how American's value time: Being on time, managing time, and setting goals for the near future (farther than that is not reasonable).
Compare and contrast with students' cultural values of time.

Learning activities:

Being on time: Divide class into six groups. Hand out a critical incident to each group. Students will read the incident and discuss in groups what they would do in the American culture. Each group will then present it to the class explaining what they would do.

Second Day Activities:

Time management:
Introduce the concept of time management to the students, scheduling, etc. Show a Franklin Planner and explain significance. Ask how many students have seen one. Pass out franklin pages and picture cards (five to each student). Have them make a day's schedule for Jill or Tom using the picture cards of daily activities. Share with class.

Now have students plan their activities for the next day/week on new franklin pages. Encourage them to plan something with another class member complete with times and duration of activity. Have them share their schedules.

Setting goals: Explain to the class how Americans are goal-oriented and completion is focused toward the near future. Ask for examples and discuss them. Review vocabulary: long-term goal, short-term goal, near future.

Pass out goal setting pages of franklin planner. Discuss some possible, legitimate goals that students might want to set. Make sure they can be accomplished in the near future (6 mos-1 year). Then have them think of short-term goals that will help them accomplish the long-range goal they set.

Encourage them to set goals that they could accomplish within the semester. Also explain that these are important and that the teacher will be checking on their progress monthly.


Encourage students to carry out their schedules they have created and try to stick as close as possible to it for the next day/week. Also encourage them to work on accomplishing their goals.


Have students interview a native English speaker on one of the three values of time emphasized. Discuss some possible questions students could ask; give examples. From the interview prepare a short culture capsule to present in class the next day.

The next day, students will get into groups according to what value they have interviewed about. Together the group will discuss what they found and then prepare an oral report to give to the whole class.


As I talked to the group, they all really seemed to like the ideas and format of the lesson plan. They also gave me some good suggestions. For instance, they advised me to let the lesson take two to three days (with the homework presentations) instead of just one. With more time, I could emphasize each section more, and the students could get more practice. They also stressed, as I did, to emphasize the goals and really make them meaningful for the students. If students experience these time activities, they will better understand the American society and feel like they fit in better.

Time Cultural Assimilator

You are a secretary in a doctor's office. A man rushes in, checking his watch and checks in with you. You notice the time is 2:05. His appointment is scheduled for 2:00. He sits down, picks up a magazine and begins flipping through it. At 2:15 you see him check his watch again and looks at the door that leads to the check-up offices. Five minutes later, you see him shifting in his seat and looking at his watch again. You notice him again looking at his watch and glancing at the door. He does not have a very pleasant look on his face. Ten minutes later this man puts down the magazine and angrily walks out of the doctor's office. Why?

A. He is scared and nervous about his appointment so he leaves, unable to handle it anymore.

B. He was offended by something he read in the magazine.

C. He was offended by having to wait so long to see the doctor.

D. He was uncomfortable sitting in the office with other people.


A. Many people do get scared in a doctor's office, but they would not leave angrily.

B. If someone is offended by a magazine article, they will not read it further, they do not usually storm out of a room.

C. This is correct. Many Americans live by their watch and have strict schedules that they follow. This man was expecting to see the doctor at 2:00, but waited for 40 minutes instead.

D. If a person is uncomfortable sitting with other people, they do not usually leave angry.

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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Saturday, June 7, 1997