When’s your birthday?
Mine’s in June!
Or is it July? Or maybe January?
Learning the months in English can be tricky (challenging)!
And then there’s the added problem of memorizing each month’s holidays in English.
Maybe you already know words like “Christmas” and “Halloween,” but do you know about National S’mores Day (August 10)? What about International Cat Day (August 8)?
But don’t worry: Learning the months isn’t actually as hard as it seems at first.
In fact, it can be fun!
Instead of just memorizing each month, try using movies and songs to make things easier.
Before you know it, you’ll not only know the months in English but also have a better understanding of the seasons and holidays associated with them.
Below, I’ll teach you the names of the months and important holidays and also recommend a film to watch to help you remember the vocab. I’ll also include some cool songs you can use to practice these words.
Let’s get started!
How Movies Help You Learn the Months in English
Movies are a great way to start memorizing the months in English. You learn how to pronounce each month and gain some useful pop culture knowledge in the process.
- They give you context for holidays. Most of the movies we’re going to recommend are about a specific holiday. As you watch these, you’ll get a glimpse (short look) into interesting cultural traditions. Watching these movies will help you learn more about how certain holidays are celebrated in English-speaking countries around the world.
- They help you practice your English listening skills. Watching movies is a great way to practice listening to English. As you watch, you’ll learn more than just the months. Pay close attention to words you’re unfamiliar with. Consider writing these down in a notebook to help you build your English vocabulary.
- They can help you speak English. How? Because they’re fun for the whole family! Pop some popcorn and have a movie night. It’s a fun way to practice your English while spending time with your friends or family. You can practice speaking English with each other as you pick up new words from the movie.
- They teach you about different cultures. In addition to learning about holidays, watching movies is a great way to learn about cultures in general. You’ll pick up on clothing styles, traditional foods and other cultural norms (shared standards from a specific area). Plus, as you watch more international films, you’ll even start to learn about the cultural differences between different English-speaking countries.
How Else Can You Practice the Months in English?
In addition to watching movies, listening to songs and chants is a great way to memorize English vocabulary words like the months.
You can access both movie clips and songs with FluentU.
You can use interactive captions to click on words to learn more about them or add them to vocab lists or flashcard sets. You can also take quizzes after each video to test your knowledge!
Here are three short videos available on FluentU to help you memorize how to spell and pronounce the months in English. If you want to access the interactive captions, you can sign up for a free trial.
As you listen to this catchy song, you’ll learn the spelling of each month. Following the spelling, clap along to count how many syllables are in each word.
In this video, the months of the year are taught in a song. As each month is sung, a few images appear in the video. These are associated with the month’s major holidays, which helps you remember what each word means.
Listen to this chant a few times and you’ll soon memorize the months in English. Like the last video, this one also features images that relate to each month’s seasons and holidays. Plus, since there’s a pause (silence) between each word, you’ll be able to say it aloud and practice it on your own.
Where Do the English Months Come From?
Before moving on to holidays and movie recommendations, let’s understand where the months got their names.
Although English isn’t a Romance language (formed from Latin), the month names can be traced back to Roman roots. March was named for Mars, the Roman god of war. July was named after Julius Caesar, and August was named after the Roman Emperor Augustus.
Since these names have Latin origins, they’re very similar to the words used for months in Romance languages.
For example, let’s compare the English and Italian words for the months:
As you can see, most of these words are very similar. If you know the words for the months in Spanish, Italian or French, it’ll help you memorize them in English.
And don’t worry if you’re not familiar with any Romance languages. The guide below will help you learn how to pronounce and memorize the English months either way!
To help you memorize the months, use this guide to learn the correct pronunciations, spellings and a few facts associated with each one.
Also, it’s important to remember that, unlike in some languages, the months are capitalized in English.
Holidays: New Year’s Day (worldwide), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (America), Chinese New Year (worldwide) and Australia Day (Australia)
Overview: January is the first month of the year, so it’s often associated with rebirth and new goals. In the Northern Hemisphere, January falls in the middle of winter while in the Southern Hemisphere it’s in the height of summer.
Must-watch film: “Selma” is a great film to watch because it teaches you about Martin Luther King Jr., who’s celebrated in America each January. Viewers will also learn English words related to freedom, including phrases like “disturb the peace” (behaving loudly in public) and “the right to vote.”
Days: 28 (or 29 during leap years)
Holidays: Groundhog Day (America and Canada), Valentine’s Day (worldwide) and President’s Day (America)
Overview: Valentine’s Day makes February associated with love. This month is at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere and close to the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Must-watch film: To help you understand the romance and stress often associated with Valentine’s Day, watch the appropriately titled “Valentine’s Day” film. Write down as many words as you can that are related to love, like “relationship” and “marry.”
Holidays: St. Patrick’s Day (worldwide)
Overview: While the Southern Hemisphere is entering autumn and starting to see orange and yellow trees, the Northern Hemisphere thinks of March as the beginning of spring.
Must-watch film: “The Luck of the Irish” is a fun, family-friendly movie that celebrates the lore (traditional beliefs) around St. Patrick’s Day. When watching this movie, learners will be exposed to an Irish accent.
Holidays: Earth Day (worldwide) and Anzac Day (Australia)
Overview: For many English-speaking countries, April is connected to Easter, rain, flowers and cool, spring weather.
Must-watch film: Watch the nature documentary “Earth” to remind yourself that Earth Day is observed this month around the world. This is a great way for learners to hear a variety of animal words, including “penguin,” “elephant,” “whale” and “polar bear.”
Holidays: Mother’s Day (worldwide except in the United Kingdom) and Memorial Day (America)
Overview: In the Northern Hemisphere, May marks the change from spring to summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the end of autumn.
Must-watch film: Many English-speaking countries, including Canada, America and Australia, celebrate Mother’s Day in May, so it’s perfect to watch the “Mother’s Day” film this month. This movie uses simple language and is easy for beginning learners to understand.
Holidays: Queen’s Birthday (United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and British overseas territories) and Father’s Day (worldwide except in Australia)
Overview: In the Northern Hemisphere, June is a sunny summer month often associated with beach trips and weddings. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s a winter month and is a perfect time to go skiing.
Must-watch film: Watch “Saving Private Ryan” to learn more about the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day), which started on June 6, 1944 and helped lead to the end of WWII. Learners will also hear vocabulary words related to war, like “surrender” (to give up power), “desert” (to abandon without planning to return) and “superior officer” (higher-ranking authority figure).
Holidays: Canada Day (Canada) and Independence Day (America)
Overview: National holidays are celebrated in both Canada and America during this month. June is strongly associated with sunshine and long, warm days in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s associated with cold, winter days in the Southern Hemisphere.
Must-watch film: “Independence Day” is a fun, classic Will Smith movie that reminds viewers that America’s Independence Day is celebrated in July. During this movie, you’ll hear multiple words and phrases that are often used around this holiday. Write down any new vocabulary words you learn, like “freedom” or “oppression” (under the rule of unjust power).
Holidays: There aren’t any major holidays, but National S’mores Day (America) is a reminder to enjoy the last bit of summer. There’s also International Cat Day for all of you pet lovers!
Overview: August is connected to the end of a season: summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Must-watch film: “The Sandlot” is a fun childhood summer movie that has a memorable (and quotable) scene about s’mores. As you watch the movie, see how many words you recognize that are related to baseball. You can hear references to Babe Ruth and the Yankees and will learn words like “batter” and “home run.”
Holidays: Labor Day (Canada and America) and Father’s Day (Australia)
Overview: September marks the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. For many English-speaking countries, it’s the start of a new school year after the summer holiday.
Must-watch film: Watch “9 to 5,” a film that’s named after traditional American work hours, which is a good reminder that Labor Day is celebrated in September in the U.S. This movie opens with Dolly Parton’s famous “9 to 5” song, which gives viewers the chance to practice listening to a song sung with a Southern American accent.
Holidays: Thanksgiving Day (Canada) and Halloween (worldwide)
Overview: While spring continues in the Southern Hemisphere, the Northern Hemisphere associates October with autumn leaves, pumpkins and Halloween celebrations.
Must-watch film: If you’re brave, watch “Halloween” to celebrate October’s well-known holiday. As you watch the film, write down as many Halloween-themed vocabulary words as you recognize. Some of the words you’ll hear include “candy,” “trick” and “boogeyman” (monster).
Holidays: Veteran’s Day (America) and Thanksgiving Day (America)
Overview: In the Northern Hemisphere, November is associated with the fall harvest and the transition from autumn to winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s considered the humid, wet season.
Must-watch film: Watch the classic animated short film “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” to learn more about the American Thanksgiving tradition. As you watch, pay attention to Charlie Brown’s classic catchphrase “good grief.” This is an English phrase you can use when you’re upset or frustrated.
Holidays: Hanukkah (worldwide), Christmas (worldwide), Boxing Day (worldwide) and New Year’s Eve (worldwide)
Overview: December is associated with the end of the year and the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons. It’s often celebrated with large family parties. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also connected to winter, snow and hot chocolate. In the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the start of summer, and the holidays are often celebrated on the beach.
Must-watch film: Consider watching a fun Christmas movie like “Elf.” Since this is a family film, the actors use simple language that’s easy for beginners to understand.
Enjoy learning about the months in English. Don’t stress if it takes some time to memorize the pronunciations or spellings. Continue to sing the FluentU songs and watch the recommended movies. After some time, you’ll remember the months and understand a few things that are associated with each one!
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based freelance writer. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.
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