Culture(s) / Punctuality

A1 Breakthrough
Are you always late? Here are some situations where it is better to be on time…
In your country, in your culture, what would be considered an appropriate arrival time for a business meeting scheduled at 10 AM, a language class starting at 2 PM ? Where would you place your culture on an “échelle de ponctualité”? Is it necessary to arrive on time?

From one culture to another, the perception of time differs greatly, as does everything associated to it: punctuality, timekeeping, appointments attendance etc. Is it necessary to warn or apologize if you are late, if you can’t attend an appointment, even if it’s an informal meeting? Are you always in a rush? What value is attached to slowness? Can you “prendre son temps”?

In Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Canada, people are punctual for appointments in the business, health care and education sectors. It is considered rude to waste the time of others by arriving late. This rule applies even more, sometimes to the second, for public transportation such as high-speed trains.
Usually, you let people know if you will be late to an appointment.
For personal appointments, the approach to time and punctuality is different in every country. In France, it is not considered rude to arrive late to your friend’s or family’s house: this is called the 15-minute grace period.

Practical exercises

Femme d'affaires regardant l'heure

Culture(s): punctuality

4 exercises
Look • Listen • Intercultural (relationship to time)