2013 is quickly passing us by, but don’t disregard your new year’s resolutions. Here are some simple ways that you can make the most of your life, and live a healthy and happy 2013.

1 - Exercise

Let’s face it, everyone is always setting themselves the goal of exercising more, and never getting round to it. But even simple things like going for a half an hour run, or going for a swim are effective ways of boosting your confidence, and staying in great shape. Running is good for the mind and it is proven that people who exercise regularly tend to be more happy.

2 - Eating healthy

Eating healthy can be hard, with the temptation of junk food forever omniscient. However, eating healthy will make you feel great both physically and mentally, and it really doesn’t have to be that hard to do. Cut out snacks such as crisps and sweets and you will notice the weight flying off, bringing with it a new found confidence. There are many options of healthy food recipes, which don't have to be expensive.

3 - Setting yourself realistic goals

Nothing feels better than achieving an ambition you have set yourself. These can be anything, from the most simple and mundane such as getting yourself organized, to finding a new job. It will give you a great sense of achievement and happiness if you set yourself goals, and accomplish them.

4 - Discover a new hobby

Sometimes we all feel as if life can be a bit dull, so pursue a hobby which you enjoy, or immerse yourself in something you have always wanted to do. Not only will you learn something new, you will make new friends and gain a welcome sense of achievement. These can be anything from sports, to singing lessons, to cooking classes!

5 - Learn a language

If you cannot speak a foreign language, why not start? Speaking another language is both valuable and interesting. It allows you to meet new people and experience countries you visit in a way previously impossible due to your lack of language knowledge.

6 - Volunteer

Volunteering is a great experience. It allows you to help other people, and gain a positive feeling for doing so. It is something you will feel proud of, and gives you the opportunity to make new friends. It could be something as simple as volunteering for a few hours at a homeless shelter, or maybe even travelling abroad.

Out of all of the world’s tongues, French is one of the most popular to learn as a second language. Once the world’s undisputed ‘international language,’ French is still very widely understood, particularly in Europe and in Africa. But French is more than simply useful – it’s the language of dreams, the language of love, and one of the most beautiful languages there is.

Here are some handy tips for learning French, or for extending your existing knowledge.

Home learning

Many of the textbooks and grammar books used by professional teachers are freely available to buy online or from bookshops. With sufficient self-discipline and focus, there’s nothing to stop you from buying these and going through the exercises yourself. Remember that you will need to ‘go over’ many aspects of the language several times before they stick in your mind.

Use the internet

There are many different internet resources with downloadable French video and audio samples, which is a great way to practise the speaking and listening aspects of the language. The web also offers many grammar, reading, writing and vocabulary resources and exercises online, many of which are free to use!

Take a French language course

Of course, it’s much easier to learn a new language if you have an experienced teacher and enthusiastic fellow students to learn with. For this reason, many people choose to take a formal French language course as a central part of their learning. Many British language schools like UIC London (http://www.uiclondon.com) offer great courses in French. These schools are very helpful – if you get in contact, they can give you all the information you need on how to book a French course
Travel around France

If you want to learn French, you may well already love France. Make the most of this enthusiasm by taking any available opportunity to travel the country and practise speaking the language first-hand – don’t be shy!

Do a volunteer placement

If you want a real immersion experience, but don’t have the cash for a long holiday in France, a volunteer placement could be what you’re looking for. Many charities and organisations offer free accommodation to volunteers, and many even throw in French lessons! Even if you don’t have formal classes, you’ll pick up lots by listening and navigating shops and buses.

Make French friends

Whether you’re travelling in France or staying at home, you should take every opportunity to make friends with French people. If you’re a complete beginner, you can get them to teach you some key words and idioms, while intermediate level learners can try having a whole conversation in French!

Learning a new language as an adult is a major endeavour, and it’s important to plan your learning carefully. For best results, you should spend at least an hour a day doing French exercises, speaking in French, watching French TV or reading French books.

Good luck!

Poll: Why do you want to learn French?
A             I like the way it sounds
B              I want to live/ work in France
C              I want to live/ work in a French-speaking country
D             I think that it’s romantic
E              I want to read French literature and watch French films

Resource Box
BBC Languages
Free resource offering exercises and explanations on speaking, reading and writing French

‘Teach Yourself Complete French’

Description and purchase link for a very well-regarded French course textbook for at-home use


A course of videos for practising French listening skills