Home News Lifelong learning: The best courses to feed your brain as you age

Lifelong learning: The best courses to feed your brain as you age


Learning can help improve memory, spark new inspiration and expand your skills — as well as your community

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Lifelong learning is a thing — an important one. If you have recently retired or are looking for a career change, a course can energize you and spark new ideas. And if you’re simply bored and need a boost, a class can be a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and have fun.


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Best, it’s good for your brain. According to a study published in 2014 in the academic journal Psychological Science, older adults who learn a new skill may be helping to protect their brains from age-related memory loss.

Here’s a short list of courses to consider:

Unleash your inner artist

An offshoot of Christie’s, the renowned auction house, Christie’s Education offers online art courses for anyone looking to learn more about contemporary art, art history and the business of art. You’ll link in with a global community of art and design lovers, buyers and sellers, plus you’ll learn a ton and maybe find a new passion. A breadth of courses is available, including The History of Jewellery Design, Watches, Art Law, Art Market Economics and Modern Art.


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Or become an artist with Emily Carr University of Art & Design’s Continuing Studies. Take one class or take a few, and get a certificate in painting, drawing, illustration, photography or 3D design — to name just a few of the part-time and full-time certificate programs on offer. Both in-person and online options are available. Many have no prerequisite, so don’t worry if you haven’t been in an art class since elementary school.

Engage your brain with a breadth of online and in-person continuing education courses, from creative writing to urban planning (and everything in between). GETTY IMAGES

Discover Indigenous Canada

Maybe you dream of understanding Indigenous histories just a little better. Indigenous Canada is a free 12-week course offered online through the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies . Sign up and you’ll learn about Indigenous land claims, environmental issues, conflicts and alliances as well as contemporary Indigenous life and art in Canada. Audit the course for free through Coursera or pay a small fee to get a certificate at completion. Or, if you prefer, you can take a for-credit version, too.


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Learn a new language

Learning a new language is a challenge that will keep your brain engaged for years to come. The Monnalisa School in Florence, Italy, offers online language classes with native Italian speakers. Try one-on-one lessons or group classes. There are flexible schedules and offerings, and when you’re ready to travel again, there are in-person courses — including seniors-only groups — in Italy, too.

If French is more your style? Alliance Française has chapters across Canada, including Vancouver, for all ages and levels. Many courses are still online because of the pandemic, but there are in-person offerings at the temporary Cambie Street location. Alliance Française also offers special events, including lectures and movie screenings, so you can practice your newfound language skills in real life.


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Pursue new and old interests

Simon Fraser University has a vast array of online and in-person continuing education courses on everything from business management to urban planning. Worth noting is the lengthy list of courses for those of us 55-plus: Poetry and Social Change, Shakespeare at the Symphony, Travel Photography That Sings.

Or explore your creativity and the written word with the university’s outstanding creative writing (fiction and non-fiction) courses and workshops. If you already have a manuscript in the works, you can meet with a professional writer to get suggestions on what to do next with your work. Course and activity lengths vary, from a couple of hours to a few weeks, depending on the chosen subject.


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Maybe screenwriting is your real dream? The Vancouver Film School offers online certificate courses on screenwriting fundamentals and writing for television. They welcome everyone: mature students, high school students or people looking to make a career change. When you finish, you’ll get a digital certificate celebrating your achievement.

Yoga offers many physical benefits, and for those looking to expand their practice, individuals can undergo a 12-week teacher certification program. GETTY IMAGES

Hone your wine knowledge

Drink wine and study with a globally recognized course from Fine Vintage.  The Vancouver-based school offers in-person and online wine courses affiliated with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in London, England. If you’ve always wanted to know the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy, this is a great place to start. Some people use their WSET education to find new careers at restaurants, wineries and wine shops, while others simply enjoy sharing their newfound knowledge at dinner parties.

Get moving

As we get older, yoga is a good way to improve circulation and build strength and balance. If you want to take your practice beyond student level, Vancouver School of Healing Arts offers a 12-week yoga teacher certification program that’s globally recognized by Yoga Alliance.

Or try Pilates. The Vancouver Pilates Centre has a range of in-person and online classes, as well as a Pilates teacher education program, too.

The story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division.


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