W5 |21-05-2020| Cultural Differences Concerning Time

in #education8 months ago

Time is perceived different according to our cultural background. How we behave related to time can represent a contrast of ideas, procedures, conceptions, and beliefs we have as individuals from different cultures. So, how can we coexist having these differences?

In some cultures they value more the present time than schedules, put people and relationships first, perform many tasks at the same time, and believe they are in command of time instead of being controlled by it. Such is the case of Latin American and African cultures. This is defined by Edward Halls as monochronic time cultures.

On the other hand, some cultures organize their lives around time; they rely on things like calendars, agendas, and of course clocks; They pay more attention to schedule building and appointment keeping; and they don’t like their time wasted. This is the case of North American and European cultures. Halls defines these conceptions as polychronic time cultures.

Now, these are not just two categories but the extremes of an spectrum meaning there's a degree on how polychronic or monochronic time certain cultures can be.

On a educational environment, we receive students with different types of time conceptions. Some of them will be Monochronic type (M-time) and some will be Polychronic type (P-time). This could affect how they behave on homework delivery, study habits, group work assignments, among other situations. For example, an P-time student might get always late at class because being on time does not come first than completely eating breakfast before leaving the house. Contrary to this, a M-time students might find disrespectful if the teacher arrives late to class as they would feel their time was wasted. P-time students would commonly say they'll do their homework and catch up with the course even though they won't act according to their words because they just committed trying not to hurt their teacher's feelings.

On a language class, culture can bring all kind of behaviors. It is important teachers take time in knowing their students so they can understand and foresee possible future conducts, and help them learn under those patterns and conceptions.


Samovar, L., Porter, R., & McDaniel, E. (2015) Intercultural Communication: A Reader. 14th edition. Kindle Edition.

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