We’re lucky enough to live during a time in which almost every single piece of information known to mankind is available to almost anyone searching for it. And you don’t need to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree to start learning, either. There are countless websites out there to help start you out on the path toward learning a new skill. Whether you want to pick up a new hobby or make yourself more marketable, the Internet is there to help. While many of the following services offer most for those willing to pay for premium memberships, they all have a lot to offer free of charge.
1. Learn to code
Computer programming is becoming an increasingly prevalent and marketable skill in the modern world. Luckily, sites like Koding can help get you started from the ground up by providing users with a cloud-based environment where they have access to a network of over one million of their peers. You can start by reading through a number of guides designed to get beginners on their feet, then move onto chatting and working with other more advanced programmers.
Best of all, it’s absolutely free!
2. Learn a new language
If programming isn’t for you and you’d rather stick to human languages, sites such as Duolingo have you covered. Using Duolingo, you can learn Spanish, French, Portugese, Italian, and much more through lessons that build on one another as your skills increase. You’ll start with simple tasks, such as learning nouns, adjectives, and verbs, eventually being able to string sentences together fluently.
And — I can’t believe I’m saying this again — it’s totally free!
3. Learn to speed read
While reading for pleasure or information is one of the more wholesome activities you can undertake, it can also be time consuming. However, Spreeder aims to help you cut down on the time it takes to get through articles and novels without allowing any information to slip by you. By weaning you off of subvocalization, Spreeder not only trains you to increase your reading speed by up to four times, but also helps ensure your reading comprehension increases as well.
Although Spreeder is free, it’s part of a larger program titled 7SpeedReading, which is a much larger and more in-depth premium program.
4. Learn to draw
Drawing is one of those skills that most people just assume you either have or don’t. But that simply isn’t the case. Anyone dedicated enough can learn the techniques artists use to create beautiful masterpieces. Sites like Drawspace offer a variety of lessons, from art history and terminology to strategies and tips to take your drawing skills to the next level.
Although many of the lessons on Drawspace are free, to get the full effect you need to become a paying member.
5. Learn to play music
Similar to drawing, people tend to think they aren’t “musically inclined” and will shy away from trying to learn an instrument — even if they really want to give it a go. Luckily, those hesitant to pick up an instrument and play in front of a master instructor can use sites like LessonFace to take virtual lessons on anything from guitar and piano to singing and rapping. While you will be interacting with actual teachers, doing so through a computer screen is much less nerve-wracking than playing in front of actual people.
Though there are many sites that offer standard lessons free of charge, LessonFace is more of a “middleman” that connects learners to master instructors who offer their services for a variety of fees.
6. Become a photographer
Ironically, despite the fact that true photography is just as difficult as playing music or creating art, services like Instagram have led everyone to believe that it’s incredibly easy. Of course, that’s not the case. To get you started as a true photographer, however, Lifehacker offers a five-part lesson, from understanding the equipment to the various techniques involved in bringing still photos to life.
If you’re that serious about photography, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny for even the most basic equipment. But you can’t really put a price tag on a new skill or hobby, can you?
Featured photo credit: the goddess of folk metal / M. Jeremy Goldman via farm1.staticflickr.com