Take These Online Classes If You’re Looking to Spend Your Free Time Productively
Less time commuting means more time to learn something useful.
Due to the new coronavirus, remote work has become the trend which cuts the commuting time of those who switched to this work style. While there are some people who know how to utilize this extra time for other activities, there are still those who don’t.
Coming from a writer who used to commute for 1 and a half hours in the morning, I started taking online lessons. After taking 3 or more courses from each category and weighing their pros and cons, here are my most recommended online lessons. This is not an ad.
The advantage of online courses is that you can take them anywhere as long as you have a PC, tablet, or a smartphone!
Online eikaiwa: Convenient lessons on your smartphone available 24 hours a day
Online eikaiwa is an English conversation course conducted by native teachers around the world at any time of the day. It is cheaper than actual schooling and allows you to take lessons depending on your availability. Since it's one-on-one learning, you can study at your own pace, too.
No worries for beginners, because there won’t be any other students to intimidate you. You can also book lessons with your favorite teacher every time.
Instructors come from more than 100 countries, such as the Philippines and Serbia
I tried 5 free courses and among them, NativeCamp. is the most beginner-friendly. You can start lessons simply by installing their official smartphone application.
Of course, classes are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition, NativeCamp. doesn’t limit to the number of lessons you can take in a day, so take as many as you want! It is recommended for beginners who want to get used to listening and speaking English quickly.
I tried the free trial!
NativeCamp. has a 7-day free trial. Other online eikaiwa schools have a limited number of free lessons, but NativeCamp. offers unlimited lessons as long as it’s within the trial period.
First, install the app and take an assessment test. Other online eikaiwa schools conduct the test once you’ve started the lessons but in NativeCamp., you take the test before starting. This is so you can estimate the content of your lessons which allows you to fully utilize the 25-minute sessions.
Take lessons in your spare time!
Another good thing about NativeCamp. is the easily understandable learning materials. They have an abundance of materials, such as those corresponding to the Callan Method (English learning method that involves thorough repetition), so you can select the one that applies to your level.
The lessons are designed to develop your vocabulary and pronunciation before proceeding to the main unit. This way, you learn to use more words compared to other online eikaiwa schools, which do not focus on pronunciation and go straight to the main topic.
Self-study content is also available in the official app aside from the lessons. Some eikaiwa schools use Skype, but having access to both in one single application is more convenient. You don’t have to worry about connection problems either, because the voice of the instructor through the app was very clear.
Recommended for those who:
・want to take lessons in their spare time even without a reservation
・want to get used to conversational English by taking as many lessons as they can
・want to study starting from pronunciation
¥6,480 per month for premium plan / ¥1,980 per month for family plan (limited to family members of a premium member)
※No reservations required, unlimited number of lessons available. Reserved lessons start from ¥100 each
※Free trial lessons are available for 7 days after registration
Online fitness: Stay active at home
This online fitness course is conducted via live streaming by a professional instructor. One lesson is shorter than a session at the studio and since you participate online, you can do it anywhere. There are pre-recorded video lessons you can watch anytime, or live stream sessions in which you can communicate with your instructor in real time.
More than 350 fitness videos!
Billy’s Bootcamp Reiwa Version has been gaining popularity online
LEAN BODY is an online fitness video service known for its affordable price and highly qualified instructors.
All in all, there are over 400 lessons on the site, which is a lot, and of course the recorded videos can be watched 24 hours a day and 365 days in a year. LEAN BODY encourages you to not give up your fitness goals by selecting lessons that fit your needs and by giving you badges or certificates of completion when you clear a task.
I tried the free trial!
The free trial lasts for 2 weeks. When you register, you will be asked a few questions—whether you joined for dieting or for treatment, what you want to improve the most, and how long you plan to continue. During that time, I was suffering from edema, so I answered, “To improve swelling and sensitivity to cold in 2 weeks.” I was recommended a lesson course with a combination of yoga, massage, and stretching that ends in 2 weeks.
Online fitness course. Start with the basics. The merit of video lessons is that you can pause and check when you find the pose challenging.
The videos are scheduled per day, so even yoga beginners will not be confused about where to start and how to move forward. I was grateful to be able to exercise on my own time and not have to worry about people seeing my clothes and my room. However, it was difficult to confirm if my pose was correct so it might be best to stay close to a mirror.
Recommended for those who:
・want to take lessons at their own pace
・want to set up lesson schedules specifically catering to their problems
・want to spend as little money as possible
¥980 (tax excluded) per month for 12-month plan / ¥1,980 (tax excluded) per month for monthly plan
※Free trial lessons are available for 2 weeks after registration
Acquire skills for a side job through online classes
Programming skills that will be useful in the future
Starting this year, elementary schools in Japan have started programming as a requirement. Recently, more and more people are learning to make it a side job. There are many ways to learn, from those that are easy to start in which you don’t need a development environment, to those where you download an editor and code while watching videos. Some are even built like a game that are enjoyable, which is recommended for people who want to start programming but find it difficult to get into.
I tried to become a free member!
There are various programming languages, but once you learn the core technologies, HTML & CSS, you will be able to set up a simple website by yourself. I created one starting from the development environment by studying the basics through Progate, which contains slides with thorough explanations, and applying what I learned while referring to videos on Dotinstall.
I tried making a simple portfolio of my hobbies
For those who are at the “What is programming?” stage, it is best to first learn the basics through Progate. It contains slides that explain the meaning of tags and grammar before getting into coding proper so you can proceed at your own pace. You will see immediately if your code works or not because you will write codes directly on the browser itself, without the need for a development environment.
If you have some background in programming, starting with Dotinstall is fine but the commentary can be too fast that beginners may find it difficult to follow.
With Dotinstall, you download the editor on your computer and learn from environment construction. Building an environment is a stumbling block for beginners, but it must be overcome. You can’t learn with Progate alone, so give it a try!
While watching the 3-minute videos, enter the code on the editor as shown
The pace is surprisingly fast so it can be troublesome to pause and play every once in a while, but the techniques and knowledge you can acquire will be worthwhile.
Recommended for those who:
・want to start programming (Progate)
・want to start studying programming seriously (Dotinstall)
・Progate: ¥980 per month for plus members
※Free members may avail of the 18 basic lessons out of the 79 lessons in the course
・Dotinstall: ¥1,080 (tax included) per month for premium members
※Free members will have access to introduction videos for each language only
Graphic design course: apply the basics in real life
When speaking of graphic design, we usually think of drawing illustrations and figures but in reality, knowing the principles of design helps in creating company materials as well. There are courses about basic information design for making easily understandable materials and lectures on how to use different tools for specific purposes.
Among them, Cocoda! is a learning service where you can learn the basics of design, UI, and UX for free! Design something according to the subject and learn while doing hands-on activities.
I tried to be a free member!
This time, I chose “first time to design.” After learning about the basic principles of design such as alignment, contrast, and proximity, I tried creating a business card.
The business card I made while following the program
I used Adobe XD for my software. While Adobe is said to be difficult to get used to, XD was relatively easy to operate! You can avail the starter plan for free.
Your output can be posted on the website as you can see other people’s works as well. There are “like” buttons and comment sections too, which help boost your motivation.
Recommended to those who:
・want to learn designing for free
・want to create designs and show them to other people
Other free online courses I tried
Photography course: SLR? Mirrorless? For those who don’t know where to start
You can watch many videos on camera and photography on YouTube. First, there are videos that answer FAQs from people who are thinking of buying a camera, such as “SLR or mirrorless?” Then, there are courses that cater to those who already have a camera but don’t know how to use them. These explain practical uses and functions such as f-number, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity among others. Online camera courses cover a wide range of topics, from beginner level to advance.
Practice with accessories and character figures
Studying the blur while watching the video. Here’s the photo I took.
Your range in photography will widen depending on the lens, whether they are zoom or single focus. By watching different videos, you can improve your technique while learning the basics.
Piano course that will enable you to play your favorite songs
Learning the piano by yourself as an adult requires a lot of patience. Buying the score is easy but if you can’t read the rhythm, it is unlikely you will finish even one song. In piano practice apps like Skoove, the difficulty of the tasks gradually increases. First, you listen to the demo music, then play only with your right hand, and then you follow the right tempo, then you play with both hands. Even without a teacher, the app picks up the sound of your piano through the mic or a MIDI cable, so rest assured that you will be informed if you are playing correctly or not.
You can see the movement of the model’s hands, so you can imitate the proper positioning
Even though the state of emergency declaration has been lifted, we still can’t relax. While avoiding the risk of infection, why not make the most of your free time and try online classes at home? Let us know which ones you end up trying, too!
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Kansai Walker™ (9 July 2020)