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Teaching an old dog new tricks: five ways YOU can #learn a new skill

dog 734689 640I haven’t taken an exam since I graduated many years ago. Nor have I studied for any qualifications (bar the odd shorthand or typing exam, most of which I failed) since. Wary of letting my brain atrophy, I’m thinking about taking a course starting in the autumn. As yet, I can’t decide whether I want to do something which could lead to employment (such as a teaching qualification) or just something fun. There are many options for those of us who have to combine study with work and childcare – and what’s more, some are free or cheap. Here are the ones I’m thinking about: I’d love to hear what you think.


1. Teaching English as a foreign language. I considered doing this a couple of years ago but circumstances intervened and I shelved the idea. I could take a CELTA course in the local town for two days a week over ten weeks for £1,000. That doesn’t sound too bad – but I’m not sure whether the work opportunities in the UK are good enough to merit it. And also, I’m not convinced I’m teacher material.

2. Computing. This was suggested by my minted colleague Jane, who understandably finds my total lack of computing skills challenging. There’s an American site www.lynda.com – which offers a free 30-day trial on lots of courses on website design, Photoshop, Excel – the lot. Looks tempting: I think even I could learn something meaningful over 30 days.

3. Free Open University courses - see here. These look fun if a bit esoteric (Aberdulais falls: a case study in Welsh Heritage, for example). I quite fancy the free 16-week course on Delacroix as I think of myself as a bit of an art nerd. But then, 16 weeks on one artist sounds a bit in-depth. There’s also a free course in writing fiction. I quite like the idea of doing one of these to find out if I’m fit for study.

4. More free courses. The FutureLearn website has loads of free courses and some are quite practical. How about Introduction to Korean, a six-week course from Hanyang University? Or Norwegian via the University of Oslo? Well, practical if you are planning a holiday in Korea or Norway.

5. Evening classes. These are held at the local secondary school and include learning to play the ukulele (£135 for ten weekly lessons); Italian for Beginners (£105 for ten weekly lessons) and Perfect Pastry (£72 for five evenings). Sounds cheap enough: maybe I should take all three to enhance my career prospects...

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Monday, 17 December 2018