August is named after Emperor Augustus, the first Roman emperor, as this is the month when he had some of his greatest triumphs. It’s the last month of summer in England and it can be as hot as July or sometimes even hotter, although it varies from year to year.
All the schools and universities are closed so a lot of people go away for a holiday in August, especially families with children. This means that it’s the most expensive time to travel. Even though August is often hot and sunny, English weather is never totally reliable so a lot of English people like to travel abroad for guaranteed sun. We also get plenty of visitors from abroad in the summer so English tourist destinations, like London and Cambridge, are crowded.
It’s also quite common for British people to go to the seaside somewhere in the UK, either for a few days or just for a day trip. People like to sunbathe on the beach and go paddling in the sea. Children build sandcastles and have donkey rides. You can buy fish and chips to eat or an ice cream but watch out for the seagulls which want to steal your food!
August is an especially important month for two particular groups of people as this is when they get their exam results. In the middle of the month, 18-year-olds get their A-level* results, after two months of waiting. They usually need good results to get a place at their first choice of university so these results are particularly important. A week later, 16-year-olds get their GCSE* results. These possibly have less impact on a young person’s future but some students need good grades to enter a new school or a college.
The last Monday in August is a national holiday, also called a bank holiday. A lot of special events take place around the country during this long weekend, the most famous of which is the Notting Hill Carnival in London. This is a celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture. There is a parade through the streets with people dancing, playing music and wearing colourful costumes. There are also many stalls selling Caribbean food. Over a million visitors visit Notting Hill every year to see the carnival and take in the atmosphere.
* A levels = Advanced level exams
GCSE = General Certificate of Secondary Education
If you would like to learn more about English life, try my e-book, "A Year in England". It contains a text like this for each month, plus a vocabulary list and reading comprehension questions. There are also bonus sections about Christmas and Easter. Click the image below or visit my shop.
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