When you’re stuck at home with nothing to do, it’s worth trying out a few new hobbies to pass the time. Of course, in these unusual times, hobbies that require going outside (such as hiking) or purchasing additional equipment (such as knitting) may be impossible to do.
Fortunately, the Internet has plenty of resources to help you learn new things. For the sake of this article, we’ll be exploring hobbies you can learn for free, at home, using the Internet, which doesn’t require additional material or equipment past a computer and a phone.
1. Learn a New Language
Learning languages is equal parts brain stimulating and equal parts productive. If you find that one website or app that clicks with you, translating sentences feels like you’re solving puzzles while you learn an entirely new language.
The Internet is full of great resources where you can learn a language for free, but Duolingo is well worth a mention here. Duolingo is a phone app with a vast array of languages under its belt – it even covers some “endangered languages” such as Navajo.
When you boot up Duolingo and choose a language, you can either start from the beginning or take a brief aptitude test to see your level of fluency. Either way, once you’ve started, you’ll have a huge range of lessons available to you.
What makes Duolingo special is its lives system. You have five lives, which regenerate at a rate of one every five hours. Every time you make a mistake in a lesson, you lose a life.
Once you’re out of lives, you can regain them using the standard mobile app methods, such as waiting for them to regenerate, paying the in-app currency to refill them, or paying for the Pro plan for unlimited hearts.
However, you can also do a “practice run” for another heart, where you revise old material to ensure you still remember it. This method means you can use hearts to learn new material, then revise words you already know to regain them again – a really useful way to learn a language.
Once you’re confident enough to start using your new language, try Lang-8. This website lets you make blog posts in the language you’re learning, and native speakers can correct you. Likewise, you can return the favor by correcting their grammar when they post.
2. Learn How to Program
Learning a language is one thing, but learning a programming language is something else entirely! Programming is both fun to learn and rewarding to do. You can use your programming skills to make a game, create a website, or design a tool that will make your life better.
Even better, the skills you learn in programming can be used to land a career. Programming is much sought-after in this digital age, so your fun time-waster has the potential to evolve into something much larger.
Unfortunately, for a novice, it’s a little tricky to choose a language. Unlike human languages, programming has different options for different use cases and would require an entire article in itself to cover all the bases. As such, check out the video above to figure out which language is best for you.
Once you have an idea which language you want to start with, check out our prior list of the 10 websites that teach you coding for ideas on where to go next.
3. Play Some Board Games
Board games are a long-loved hobby, and the digital age has made them even easier to play. Don’t assume this is your standard fare of Monopoly or Snakes & Ladders – the complexity and enjoyment of modern-day board games outshines what’s typically brought out during Christmas family gatherings.
There are many digital games, apps, and even simulators for board games, but these all typically cost money. Board Game Arena, however, lets you play a generous selection of games with friends for free. If you love what you see, you can upgrade to premium to unlock the more popular games.
4. Get Back into Reading
Now is also a good time to hop back into reading those books you promised you’d get around to. Fortunately, if you don’t have any books to read, the Internet has plenty of ebooks you can legally download.
Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks are good places to find books that you can get for free without breaking the law. This includes books that have been released at no cost, as well as books that fell out of copyright and are now in the public domain. You can read these ebooks on your computer or on your mobile devices.
Getting on the Hobby-Horse
Being stuck indoors isn’t ideal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. The Internet makes it easy to pick up a new hobby or revitalize an old one without paying a cent.
Which hobbies have you learned for free on the Internet? Let us know below.