A Philadelphian’s Guide to Learning … Anything
In a Year or So
The Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre’s non-credit ASL class instructors are seriously qualified (all are fluent signers) and seriously serious about creating a relaxed learning environment (light homework, no tests) for signing newbies.
THE TIME: By the end of DHCC’s four levels (each level meets once a week for 10 weeks), you should be able to hold an informal conversation.
THE TAB: $135 per level, plus the cost of books.
Dance to anything
The thing about tap is that from the first lesson, rhythms get stuck in your brain, and suddenly you’re fuh-lap-stepping your way through the Starbucks line, in every empty elevator, while standing at the stove in your kitchen. I tap constantly between my twice-weekly lessons at Society Hill Dance Academy, where owner Shana Vitoff is teaching me a gentle little routine to “Moon River.” Read the rest of Christine Speer Lejeune’s essay on taking tap-dancing lessons here.
Speak French. Or Italian. Or Spanish. Or Japanese. Or …
Center City’s Lingual Institute will get you started—or refreshed—in most languages with a series of startlingly affordable group classes. And if that prospect triggers visions (flashbacks?) of classmates sniggering at your verb conjugation, L.I. also offers private tutors.
THE TIME: Group classes meet once a week for five weeks. Conventional wisdom holds that it takes about a year to master very basic conversation.
THE TAB: Starts at $120 for five group classes; $45 an hour for private instruction in Romance languages, $50 for others.
Look good on a horse
It’s never too late: Instructors at Malvern’s Thorncroft Equestrian Center once taught a 90-year-old beginner to trot.
THE TIME: After 30 minutes spent learning how to tack and lead your horse, you’ll be up in the saddle on day one—though many equestrians take up to a year to gain the confidence and skills required for more serious riding.
THE TAB: $50 for a half-hour lesson. Beginners start with private lessons and work their way up to group sessions.