7 DIY ways to learn new skills


Who said going back to school was just for kids and college students? And who said we have to go back to a classroom to develop new skills or enhance existing ones? 

Whether it’s to pick up a new hobby, gain expertise in a new field, or find ways to help you realise your true passion, there’s an impressive array of virtual resources available to get you kickstarted. 

There are countless apps, YouTube channels, websites, games and online communities, offering entirely free (or mostly free) courses, tutorials and tips, allowing you to learn from the comfort of your own home or even on the go. 

Unearth your hidden talents!

1. Learn a new language

Duolingo's Luis von Ahn at TEDx

For free. On an app. Yep, that’s right - ever heard of a little something called Duolingo? This mobile app has been a game changer. It’s turned the concept of learning a language from a painstaking (and often expensive) process and transformed it into a fun and widely accessible endeavour. Simply download it, pick from over 20 different languages, and dive in! Bon chance! Buena suerte! You can download the iOS app or the Android app. 

PS. Above is a TEDx talk from Duolingo founder, Luis von Ahn, just before he launched the app. Absolutely fascinating to hear where the concept came from.

2. Learn to code

phone with coding lesson

If you think coding is reserved for programmers or engineers - think again. Companies like Codecademy are helping people from all sorts of professional backgrounds become proficient at coding. Their roster is impressive - you can learn a specific ‘language’ (e.g. Python, HTML) or you can learn to build a website, all through interactive courses online which you can do at your own pace. Courses are free or you can upgrade to a premium account for bespoke lessons and packages. 

3. Get drawing!

man drawing a flower

Remember how much fun drawing was when you were a kid? If, like most adults, you stopped at one point in your life, get back into it. You may have a serious flare for it, or you may just finding deeply therapeutic - either way, everyone should feel comfortable with a sketchbook and pencil.  Besides, it’s a wonderful way to express your creativity. DrawSpace offers loads of tutorials online and is a fab place to start. 

4. Learn to play an instrument

someone playing the piano

Did you know that over 85% of people who start learning a musical instrument fail? That’s shocking, but unsurprising - traditional teaching methods have proven to be pretty ineffective for most. Well, fret (get what we did there?) not! 

Unleash your inner musician with Yousician. Another awesome app to add to your learning arsenal, Yousician helps you get to grips with the basics of an instrument through gamified education with a syllabus designed to help you progress. Offers lessons in guitar, piano, ukulele and bass.

5. Learn to prototype electronics

circuit board

Are you a tinkerer looking for your next challenge? We have one word for you: Arduino - an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Over the years Arduino has been the brain of thousands of projects, from everyday objects to complex scientific instruments. It boasts from a worldwide community of makers - students, hobbyists, artists, programmers, and professionals. Everything is accessible via their website (hardware and software) and you can join their open forum - to contribute or simply read, observe and learn. 

6. Learn about and contribute to science

people in a field

You can do so by joining a citizen science project. You don’t have to be an expert in a particular field, and you don’t need specialist skills to take part in citizen science. Although this will require more field work than learning something new on an app, organisations offering projects will provide all the information and guidance that you’ll need online. It’s an amazing way to learn about and make a significant contribution to science. Check out your national natural history museum websites or have a look at programmes set up by reputable scientific publications like Scientific American

7. Learn how to edit videos

someone working on a laptop

Thinking of setting up your own business? Intrigued by the working life of a blogger or vlogger? Looking to create something visually awesome for your friends and family? Whatever is driving your curiosity, video editing may well be one of the handiest skills to have right now. Video is an essential format for communication, both personal and professional, and you don’t have to have fancy software or aim to be a movie producer either. Lifehacker offers online tutorials to get the basics under your belt and you can get free video editing tools to practice on.