Tips for teaching time in bilingual classrooms

Alarm Clock

Learning to tell time is an important skill set for children. At times, teaching how to tell time can be tricky, especially when children are learning it in two languages. Here are some tips on how to start the adventure with your students.

  1. Teach the children to communicate their daily routines respective to different times of the day (morning, afternoon, night) in both languages. This will help build a foundation for learning how to tell time through a bilingual standpoint.
  2. Demonstrate different units of time (minutes, hours, etc.) with real life examples children can relate to, such as blinking or eating lunch.Then create an activity for children to sort the different activities into the correct units of time. Make it bilingual by doing the sorting in the target language and sharing answers in the native one. 
  3. Slowly introduce the terminology used for telling time. Start with the vocabulary for the clock and the numbers first. We recommend teaching the vocabulary together in both languages to help the children associate the words. Then follow with phrases used to ask and tell time. Pay close attention to any variations when teaching in two languages. 
  4. Start with analog clocks first. This will help children understand how time is portioned by hours and minutes before telling time in different languages. Ask the children to make their own clocks with manipulatives that help reinforce the learning.
  5. Encourage conversation between children to practice telling time. Setup situations where children have to communicate by telling time in both languages. 


Learning how to tell time in two languages is a challenging endeavor. However, by dividing the concepts into different lessons with real life examples, fun activities, and translanguaging, we can make it easier and more exciting.

At Smile and Learn we have many interactive activities and videos to learn concepts like this in Spanish and English. Send us an email at with your name and school/educational center for a free trial.

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