You can spend your days watching Netflix and playing Animal Crossing while you shelter in place, or you can use this unprecedented amount of free time to learn a new skill. Thanks to technology and the number of free online classes being offered right now, the possibilities for personal growth are endless. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
— Harriet Ramos
Learn DIY Home Repairs
My sister got all the carpentry talent in our family. For a long time, she accused me of not even being able to change a light bulb. I am working hard to salvage my image by watching YouTube videos on home renovations and repairs.
A couple of years ago my husband and I bought our first home. It was built in the 1940s and the panel walls and floor are desperately in need of renovation. I am looking forward to the day when I can rip out the old, tan carpet and replace it with hardwood flooring.
I recommend the YouTube channel “This Old House” because it gives step-by-step advice on how to do everything from choosing flooring to repairing windows.
Speak Another Language
If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language but just didn’t know how to begin, Duolingo has a website and app that can get you started. They offer more than 30 languages, including Spanish, Russian, French and German.
The interactive lessons help you build vocabulary and start putting entire sentences together. There is also a listening component so you can hear the words as they are supposed to sound. The program allows you to set daily goals and study at your own pace.
If Duolingo doesn’t work for you, Memrise is another language-learning program you could try. Both are free.
Play an Instrument
If you happen to have a guitar laying around the house as I do, you can start learning classical guitar online. The website This is Classical Guitar offers a variety of free videos on how to properly hold the guitar and right and left-hand positions.
There are lessons for beginners as well as early intermediate players. The instructor is a teacher at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Victoria, British Columbia.
If playing guitar isn’t your thing, you can type “learn to play piano”, or whatever your instrument of choice is, into your Google browser, and you will find a number of YouTube videos that will get you started.
Become an Artist
For all of you aspiring artists out there, this might be the perfect opportunity to unlock your potential. Go to Art Lessons Online and link up with Australian artist Murray Charteris. He offers free drawing lessons on his website and YouTube channel. He promises his lessons will help even those who can’t get past the stick figure stage.
The website Skill Share also offers a number of free videos where you can learn the techniques of watercolor and acrylic painting and interior design.
Take Classes from Ivy League Universities
If you have always wanted to study at Harvard, Yale or Princeton now is your chance. A number of Ivy League Colleges are offering free online classes. Go to the website Class Central and choose from over 400 options. Those who want to learn digital photography techniques can check out Exposing Digital Photography from Harvard. Computer programming geeks could benefit from Software Development Fundamentals offered by the University of Pennsylvania.
If Ivy League isn’t the way you want to go, on the same website you can find hundreds of other free courses from universities around the world on just about every topic imaginable.