From wakeboarding to pottery and even hacking, it’s never too late to learn something new

If you associate adult learning with online diplomas and hefty journals, think again. There are many ways to satisfy your curiosity and learn a new skill, all infinitely more fun than the classroom or lecture hall. 

And, despite our brain cells beginning to drop off when we reach the grand old age of twenty, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of life in the old grey matter yet. In fact, much like the body, keeping your brain active is the best thing you can do.

Based on the school curriculum, we’ve scoured Manchester for some adult alternatives: from story writing with Comma to Spanish at Instituto Cervantes (with some salsa thrown in for extra measure).

It really is never too late to learn...

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P.E. - wakeboard me up, before you row row

Bitchy locker rooms, rainy sports days, being the last to be picked for a team…the dilemmas go on. It’s easy to see why ‘physical education’ is often scorned or skipped altogether at school. But don’t let that put you off for life; there are myriad opportunities to learn a new sport in Manchester, all infinitely more fun than playing rounders in a soggy field. 

You could speed through Salford Quays on a powerboat or wakeboard with a Helly Hansen water sports course, unleash your inner Tony Hawk with adult classes at Projekts Skatepark, ski or snowboard down the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope during a Chill Factore lesson, and even learn to climb in a converted church

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Chill Factore has the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope

LANGUAGES - 'Das ist mir Wurst'

Granted, the earlier the better when learning a foreign language: researchers say before seven is the optimal age, hence why they’re now taught in primary schools. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the lingo as an adult. Whether you want to flirt in French, speak in Spanish or gabble in German, there’s no time like the present. 

A quick Google search will reveal language schools aplenty but, for a more immersive cultural experience, try the Alliance Française (French), Instituto Cervantes (Spanish) and the Deutsch Centre (German); all of which offer lively event calendars spanning film screenings to book clubs, exhibitions to dance. 

Instituto Cervantes Manchester
Salsa at the Instituto Cervantes

THE ARTS - painting, pottery and patter

Not a child prodigy like Picasso? That doesn’t mean you can consign your artistic talents to the proverbial scrap heap. After all, take a look at Lowry, who apparently showed ‘no academic aptitude’. Regardless, there are still many ways to enjoy the arts in Manchester - and how better than having a go? 

Plant Noma and Manchester Craft & Design Centre host regular workshops, from pottery to photography, while PopUp Painting helps you recreate a masterpiece with the help of professional artists…plus a glass of wine or two. If it’s more performing arts that take your fancy, prepare for your West End debut at City Academy or put your ImprovQuo comedy classes into practice at one of their free Thursday jams. 

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Learn to master the kiln at one of Plant Noma's many workshops

CORE SUBJECTS - math laughs and short story glory

Didn’t enjoy English at school but still enjoy a good book? Or perhaps fancy writing your own magnum opus? Then forget a teacher and join a group: book clubs span classic to contemporary, boozy to apocalyptic, and writing groups are just as diverse. For short stories, check out Confidential contributor Andrea Sandor’s group at MadLab and the acclaimed courses run by Comma Press (the latter albeit with a teacher but still informal).

Meanwhile, maths nerds can join a monthly maths jam at Crown & Anchor, while - much like TED - Funzing has talks on a wide range of topics including history to geography and science: from 'Women in the War' to 'Brexit for Beginners' and 'The Science of Chocolate'. No textbooks involved.    

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Funzing talks span sex to serial killers, and plenty more besides

I.T. - stop slacking, get hacking

Ignore those I.T. classes and suddenly find yourself playing catch up? Don't panic, there's plenty of ways to upskill. The Google Digital Garage on King Street has loads of free courses, from online advertising to website analytics, and Manchester Libraries often have free sessions too - such as a beginner's guide to iMacs, iPhones and iPads. Meanwhile, MadLab puts the fun into technical innovation with playful workshops like hacking Minecraft, 3D emoji printing and computer game design. They'll also teach you to design your own website. 

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MadLab