By: Nick Callos
Looking for productive things to do during quarantine?
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up things for everyone, from university students to office workers to teachers. While you can’t go study abroad at Oxford or learn to tango in Argentina right now, you can put your extra time at home to good use.
Simply put, now’s as good a time as ever to build your skills through e-learning. Don’t pass up the opportunity! Because the benefits of learning are clear.
Most importantly, online learning during quarantine will improve your cognitive ability and keep your mind active. As a Harvard University article notes, you need to exercise your brain with challenges to keep it healthy.
Furthermore, you can also boost your resume. Imagine being able to put an important new skill on your CV, such as familiarity with WordPress.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can build your skills during self-isolation via online courses. We’ll mention mostly online courses that are free, though some may require a fee or subscription for full access.
Let’s get to learning!
Learn a New Language
Why learning a new language is one of the best quarantine activities
By learning a new language, you can:
- Improve cognitive ability: As a study published by the Frontiers in Psychology found, learning a new language boosts brain function at any age.
- Increase your job opportunities: Demand for bilingual workers is predicted to increase by 70% from 2016 to 2026. Moreover, bilingual employees earn between 5% and 20% more than their position’s average rate, according to a Salary.com survey.
- Communicate with more people: Knowing more Spanish would certainly help during your next trip to South America! By learning a new language, you can make friends from around the world!
Best online language learning courses for the quarantine
No matter what language you wish to learn, the following types of online courses and apps can help:
- Language exchange platforms: Find language partners and teachers for any language combination. One great platform is italki, an app that connects you with language learners around the world. Whether you want to learn Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Swahili, Mandarin, Korean, or Thai, this app has you covered.
- University courses: You’d be surprised by the number of online courses that are free, including some offered by major colleges. With the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, you can study all sorts of languages, from Portuguese to Japanese.
- Language learning apps: Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and similar programs are solid places to start your language learning. For quicker progress, especially with speaking, combine your study with one-on-one lessons with a tutor. Tandem is a good site for finding tutors.
Learn how to Code
Why learning to code is one of the best quarantine activities
Programmers enjoy high salaries, as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. Job growth in the industry is expected to increase by 12% annually through 2028. Additionally, knowing how to code improves problem-solving capability, increases career flexibility, and can be useful in roles outside coding, such as marketing and finance.
Best online coding courses for the quarantine
- Online code learning resources: You’ll find many online courses that are free or at least have a freemium model. Start at places like Code Academy, Khan Academy, and Coursera.
- University courses: Again, you’d be surprised by the number of online courses that are free on university websites. Harvard University, for example, has lots of online computer science and programming courses. They’re completely free, and you get a certificate after completion.
- GitHub: Definitely make use of the GitHub Learning Lab. This will enable you to grow your skills through real-world projects.
Learn how to Teach English
Why learning how to teach English is one of the best quarantine activities
The world has 1.5 billion English language learners. So, the demand for ESL teachers is massive. If you want a job that allows you to live and work in other countries, teaching English is one of the best options. Earn money as you enjoy life in places like Peru, Italy, and Vietnam.
Best online ESL teaching courses for the quarantine
TEFL, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is what you need to learn. There are lots of online TEFL certification courses out there. Some are better than others. Here are three we recommended:
- International TEFL Academy: Their 170-hour online TEFL certification course will more than prepare you for ESL teaching work overseas. When the virus passes and you can begin applying for jobs abroad, you’ll stand out with an International TEFL Academy certificate. Tuition is $1,399.
- Maximo Nivel: Through this self-paced 150-hour course, you’ll get the chance to train with professional ESL teachers and teach English language learners. Maximo Nivel also offers lifetime job placement assistance in Latin America. Tuition is $495.
- TEFL Org: Through their 120-hour TEFL/TESOL online course, you can study at your own pace with guidance from a personal tutor. Tuition is $509, but there are discounts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn how to Play an Instrument
Why learning how to play a musical instrument is one of the best quarantine activities
First, knowing how to play your favorite songs is cool. Second, you can boost your mental capabilities. A University of Montreal study found that learning music makes you more mentally alert. Northwestern University also discovered learning how to play music improves memory. Third, playing music is a good way to deal with stress. It can improve mental wellbeing.
Finally, playing music can be a great way to make friends and even make good money. For instance, you could play at local bars and weddings. How awesome does that sound?
Best online music courses for the quarantine
- University courses: Whether you want to learn Afro-Cuban drums, blues guitar, commercial songwriting techniques, vocal production, or jazz improvisation, great music schools like Berklee College of Music are ready with courses to help. Berklee also has some online courses that are free on edX.
- Tutoring platforms: Sites like Lessonface allow you to learn one-on-one with a tutor. Learn guitar, bass, keyboard, piano, voice, and more.
- Music labs: Want to learn how to create music using new technologies and tools? Check out New York University’s Music Experience Design Lab.
Learn More in Your Area of Expertise
Why learning more in your area of expertise is one of the best quarantine activities
Whether you specialize in accounting, engineering, or travel writing, now’s as good a time as ever for continuing education. If you’re between jobs, it will help you stand out when you apply for new positions. If you’re working remotely now, upskilling may enable you to take on more responsibilities and even get a promotion.
Best online continuing education courses for the quarantine
- University courses: If you want quality online courses that are free (or mostly free), look no further than places like Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University.
- Continuing education sites: The amount of learning content on sites like Lynda, Udemy, and Academic Earth is incredible. You can find what you need to upskill, no matter what your field is.
Making the Most of Your Time Right Now
Yes, binge-watching Netflix shows and playing video games are fun quarantine activities. But you can do more while in self-isolation. You can build your skills via online learning!
You won’t regret making the investment in educating yourself. When things get back to normal, you’ll be surprised by all the opportunities that await you. And you’ll be ready to do great things.
So, start learning now!
Have other ideas on how to upskill at home? Join our community and start the conversation.
About the Author
Nick Callos has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.