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Couple preparing the meal in the kitchen

Stuck inside due to COVID-19? It’s the perfect time to learn new skills

Mastering new skills like cooking or playing music is easier than ever with an abundance of online resources

Couple preparing the meal in the kitchenWith restaurants shuttered indefinitely, many are rediscovering the joy of cooking and turning to celebrity chefs online, who are sharing tips and tutorials (Getty Images/fotografixx)

COVID-19 is affecting Canadians across the country, forcing many into remote work, others into financial hardships, and everybody into some manner of self-quarantine. Travel is cancelled, events are called off and restaurants are closed. 

Many are using this period of isolation to master new pursuits. If you need a break from brushing up on Excel and other professional skills, you can pivot to other passions too. Whether you’re interested in woodworking or website design, online resources have never been more accessible. Even Toronto Raptors guard Norm Powell is using the NBA hiatus to learn sign language and Spanish.   

Here are a few skills and hobbies you can pick up while you’re hunkered down. 


With restaurants shuttered indefinitely, many are rediscovering the joy of cooking. A hobby with no shortage of both physical and online resources, there are now even more ways to hone your culinary clout. Chefs around the world have opened up their kitchens with online cooking classes, tutorials and more. 

Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi hosts #BakersClub every day at 2 p.m., with an accompanying shopping list and music playlist. Superstar chef Massimo Bottura comes live from Italy with his Instagram series titled Kitchen Quarantine. And Antoni Porowski—the Canadian food and wine expert on the Emmy award-winning series Queer Eye—launched his IGTV series, Quar Eye: Cooking Lessons in Quarantine.

Need to learn some more basic skills? Skillshare has you covered, with courses on knife handling, making dumplings and even how you can photograph delicious food images. 


Just like celebrity chefs, famous musicians are bringing their talents to the internet, taking the time to share tips during social isolation. Canadian band Arkells have been sharing chords and lyrics for their music online and lead singer Max Kerman hosts a live tutorial for each song. Meanwhile, pianist Chloe Flower is offering free daily piano lessons for beginners on her YouTube channel.

If you’re looking for a more structured lesson, music schools like Canada Music Academy are now offering live online sessions with a teacher.


Being stuck at home offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a new language. The renowned Rosetta Stone has affordable plans and is offering a free three-month subscription for students to learn any of 22 languages. Babbel is offering a similar promotion for classes in a dozen languages. The Duolingo app, available for both iOS and Android, offers free language lessons, with points and levels that resembles gameplay. 

If you just need to brush up on a second language, try iCulture, Carnegie Learning’s package of videos, articles and songs in French, Spanish or German. The immersion resource is also free to teachers and students through the end of the school year. 


With hair stylists not making the list of essential services, many Canadians are showing off their #coronacut on social media. But just because you can’t get a professional cut, doesn’t mean you can’t get professional advice. The website You Probably Need a Haircut lets people book a video call with a professional barber for as little as US$18. While you’ll need the tools at home, the expertise may help you avoid a haircut disaster.

YouTube is also full of DIY haircut advice for those undertaking the task during COVID-19. Regina barber Andy Chung has a series of tutorials online, including tools you might need and different styles.


Sharpen your professional skills with these free virtual learning resources. There are also plenty of fun (and free) activities to keep kids busy in isolation and apps to help you socialize while social distancing. 

In addition, stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 news related to the accounting profession, including a compilation of external resources and online news articles.


No matter what you want to learn, there are a variety of websites dedicated to online learning. These are some of the most popular for high-quality video tutorials.
Masterclass: Take interactive video courses online, hosted by celebrity experts in their respective crafts. Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking; Annie Leibovitz teaches photography; even Penn & Teller can teach you the art of magic.

LinkedIn Learning: Formerly called, the courses and model remain the same. You can pay a flat fee each month to gain access to their entire library of content. This gives users a lot of freedom and flexibility to pick and choose what to learn. The site has an incredibly broad range of topics, including tech, art, business and much more.

Udemy: The site bills itself as a marketplace where anybody can teach and anybody can learn. Udemy features more than 80,000 courses, including more than 4,500 free ones. Courses range from the usual digital technology, to the more niche academic subjects.

Treehouse: The online learning platform focuses on digital skills like web design and coding. A membership gives access to their active Slack community with over 50 thousand current students, as well as Treehouse staff to answer questions and give advice.