Learn real skills using games

3 sites that will teach you real skills using games FOR FREE


Despite having a university education, about 80% of the technical skills I get paid to use at work each day I learned online. For free.

Long gone are the days when you had to pay hundreds of dollars and commit to months of classes to explore a new hobby that you might be interested in. Today there are several free learning apps and sites that can take you to a respectable level of mastery in almost anything you want to learn. And one day you may even get paid to do these things.

Have you ever wanted to make an app? Speak a foreign language? Play an instrument?

Here are 3 learning apps and sites for beginners wanting to learn these through step-by-step instruction and fun games:

  1. Want to code for websites and apps?

You can learn the computer languages that make websites (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and apps (React, Angular, Ruby). Database languages like SQL can also be learned using this website. The site uses an interactive method of teaching. The interface gives you instructions, and as you fulfill them you can instantly see how your code is changing what you’re creating.

  1. Want to learn a foreign language?

As an English speaker, you can choose to learn up to 19 languages for free using this site. It’s also available as a learning app and you can learn to read, write and speak a new language by committing to 10 minutes a day. This site makes it fun by boosting your confidence with easy beginners lessons and every “level” is just long enough for you to have learned something and short enough to keep you entertained. The online community is also active, friendly and has a great sense of humour. Will you become fluent using only this site? No, since becoming fluent in a language takes a lot of practice in real-life contexts. But you will know enough to order your lunch from a Parisian deli while receiving encouraging smiles. I sure did.

  1. Want to learn a musical instrument?

Have you ever played Guitar Hero? This is guitar hero but with a real guitar (or bass / ukulele / piano.) Prior to trying this learning app, I had already played the guitar for years. Even so, this site was still teaching me new styles of music and challenging my ability (not to mention it’s just downright fun). The app works by using your phone/computer’s mic to listen to what you are playing and, through the magic of technology, it can tell you if what you’re playing sounds right. Again, learning by doing. The free version will limit you to 20 minutes a day and you do need to have a real instrument to play.

These learning apps and sites have actually been around for years now but I still think they’re some of the best for kick-starting a new passion. None of them are enough to train you into an expert but you’ll learn something useful and enjoy the process. Do you have a favorite learning app, blog or YouTube channel of your own? Connect with Vancity’s Facebook or Twitter about it using the tag #goodmoneyblog.

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