Learning Something New

I have been learning something new. I’ve been using a handy little app called Duolingo to learn some German before I head to Austria in January next year.

I love the function of this app – you can set your goals, receive reminders and progress at your own pace through all the lessons. The short chunks of information are good for my attention span, and I feel the content gets the balance right between repeating information so I remember and understand it, and also consistently introducing new words and phrases to keep it interesting. I am learning a lot and having more fun than I thought I would.

It is easy to think that once we are out of school or university, learning a new skill or hobby is beyond our reach, but it doesn’t have to be. I don’t think we ever stop subconsciously learning and I don’t think we should ever stop actively learning either.

Learning German has taken less time each day than I thought it might – I usually only spend 5 or 10 minutes on the app, and in almost 40 days I have learnt about 300 words fluently. I am finding reading the language a lot easier than speaking it, but getting better everyday.

What could you learn to do if you devoted 10 minutes a day to it? Or maybe 1 hour a week? I know adults who have taught themselves to paint, juggle, play a musical instrument or knit just because they decided to learn something new. Or maybe it means joining a class and committing a little more time and energy to grow your mind and expand your horizons.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are an excellent way to do this. They are free online courses that run for a few weeks and are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. I recently signed up for this course that studies England in the time of Richard the Third.

What is the thing you want to learn about? It doesn’t have to be a specific skill or talent. Your thing doesn’t even have to be a thing yet. There’s an excellent article on this topic over on Nina Kardia. We don’t have to learn and work within the categories other people have already created and explored. We can make up new topics and areas to be excited about about.

Is there a weirdly specific subsection of a genre that interests you? Find all the books in that genre and become an expert. Is there some topic in your field you have heard a lot about but don’t really understand? Research it and teach yourself. Go out there and find someone who knows what you want to know, or start exploring on your own.

We have the internet and libraries and information at our fingertips – learning has never been easier. So go learn about something, and once you have, share it with the world.

Never stop learning. Never stop wanting to know more and be able to do more.

What do you want to learn about?

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