Adult classes in NYC, from acting classes to language courses

Adult classes in New York cover virtually every subject you can think of—study our edited selection of courses and workshops and prepare to be inspired.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Adult classes in NYC: Applied Deconstruction 101

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Intro to Neon Weekend at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Instructor David Ablon at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Martin Seck

    Adult classes in NYC: Fashion Merchandising at Parsons

  • Photograph: Courtesy OM Factory

    Adult classes in NYC: AcroYoga at OM Factory

  • Photograph: Courtesy Furniture Joint

    Adult classes in NYC: Beginner upholstery at the Furniture Joint

  • Photograph: Courtesy French Institute Alliance Française

    Adult classes in NYC: A French class at FIAF

  • Photograph: Courtesy the New York Studio School

    Adult classes in NYC: Painting at the New York Studio School

Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center


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Language

The Japan Foundation, New York (152 W 57th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 17th floor; 212-489-0299, jfny.org) supplements its introductory to upper-intermediate Japanese language courses with cultural workshops. If you’re a newbie, sign up for A1-1 Introductory Japanese (Sept 19–Nov 21,Thu 6:15–7:15pm; ten classes $200). You’ll learn everyday expressions and how to read and write the hiragana and katakana syllable systems. You can advance your studies by moving on to the next two introductory-level classes, A1-2 and A1-3, and gain insight into Japanese culture by attending events, such as a recent session in sushi making, in which participants picked up basic phrases and table manners. Check out the Conversation Café (Aug 28 6:30–8pm; $5), where students at all levels can converse with native speakers on a cultural topic over tea and snacks.

At the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute (684 Park Ave at 68th St; 212-628-0420, qssi.org) beginner-level Spanish courses (starting Sept 16; $562 including books) get students speaking the lingo on Day One through common scenarios. Move on to the intermediate level and you can supplement formal classes with a free, 90-minute conversation workshop on the last Friday of the month. Advanced students can practice their Spanish over wine at the weekly Tertulia Cultural (Cultural Gathering; $30). The $60 QSSI membership fee is included in the cost of all language courses, allowing students to attend events like Jueves Cine (Thursday Cinema), Circulo De Lectores (Reading Club) and art exhibitions for free or reduced prices. If you’re about to travel to Spain or Latin America or your job requires Spanish, refresh your speaking skills in the two-week Immersion Program (30 hours of private classes; $1,760).

Expect Smart Boards, CDs and a native French-speaking instructor in the classroom at the French Institute Alliance Française (22 E 60th St between Madison and Park Aves; 646-388-6612, fiaf.org). Sessions are offered in 11 weeks (Sept 23–Dec 14; one-and-a-half hours per week $330; three hours per week $615) and five and a half weeks (Sept 23–Oct 29, Oct 30–Dec 12; six hours per week  $615). At the beginner level you’ll learn the basics, from introducing yourself to interacting with others in everyday life. Students will enjoy the perks of enrolling in a FIAF language course: one-year membership with access to free Tuesday film screenings, discounted cultural programs and the largest private French library in the country.

Get a taste of la dolce vita at Collina Italiana (1556 Third Ave at 87th St, suite 603; 212-427-7770, collinaitaliana.com), where classes of no more than eight students are led by Italian instructors. The “Grammar and Conversazione” language program is offered in ten two-hour classes at eight levels from beginner to advanced ($450). Fall study is broken down into two sessions: Sept 16–Nov 23 and Oct 14–Dec 14. Beginners can expect to tackle tricky verb conjugations and basic grammar to string together sentences for simple conversations. If you need a crash course before a trip to Italy, sign up for the “Survival Kit” starting on Oct 3 (four 90min classes; $190). You’ll learn the traveler’s essentials, such as how to order in a restaurant and ask for directions. Oenophiles and foodies will savor Collina Italiana’s cultural programs. “Parole e Cucina” (Sept 27; 2hrs; $55) will guide you through the basics of Italian cuisine, so you can order with ease the next time you’re dining on Arthur Avenue. 

Rosetta Stone is incorporated into the language program at Baruch College’s Continuing & Professional Studies Division (55 Lexington Ave at 24th St; 646-312-5000, baruched.com), making it easy to practice outside of the classroom. Mandarin courses are offered in two fall sessions at six levels of beginner to advanced study (eight sessions; $299). In Mandarin Chinese 1 (Sept 16–Oct 9, Oct 21–Nov 13; Mon, Wed 6:15–7:45pm), you’ll acquire conversation and grammar skills in the Pinyin writing system. Expect to master 50 Mandarin characters and hold simple conversations about travel, food and other subjects at the end of the course. Afterward, you can enroll in the more advanced “Language for Business” and “Language for Healthcare” programs, which are tailored to professionals who need to communicate with colleagues, clients or patients in Mandarin.


Performing arts

Thanks to the Made in NY program—a collection of tax credits, product and service discounts and marketing opportunities for filmmakers who choose to shoot in the city—the local industry is booming. If you want to get in on the action, New York Film Academy (100 E 17th St at Union Sq East; 212-674-4300, nyfa.edu) offers hands-on training for just about any job you could want. Aspiring screen stars will appreciate the One-Week Acting for Film Workshop (Aug 19–23, Oct 21–25; $1,100). “Well-trained professional actors who have discipline, technique and a working knowledge of the entire filmmaking process are rare,” says Roger Del Pozo, NYFA’s director of acting and musical theater admissions. “Unlike other acting schools, we provide all of our students with a basic education in a variety of filmmaking crafts: directing, producing, screenwriting and many different crew positions.” Participants work closely with students in the film program to shoot on-location shorts, and have the opportunity to network with like-minded moviemakers.

A love of singing is the only prerequisite for taking part in pierStudios’ Cabaret class (212-243-6638, pierstudios.com/cabaret; 12 classes Sept 17–Dec 15, Thu 6:30–8:30pm; $444) at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center (107 Suffolk St at Rivington St, suite 517). Classically trained teachers, including founder Peggy Lewis, a veteran of the National Theater School of Canada, and cabaret coach Erv Raible, executive director of Cabaret & Concert Artists International, show wanna-be balladeers how to choose the best material, sharpen their stagecraft and connect with a crowd. Regular cabaret nights ensure your voice will find an audience.

Perfect your comic timing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center (145 W 30th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-929-8107, newyork.ucbtrainingcenter.com), the country’s only accredited improv and sketch comedy school, which counts Amy Poehler among its founders. Improv 101 (eight weekly or twice-weekly classes $400, one-week intensive $475) immerses students into the world of long-form improvisation, where they’ll pair quick wit with active listening to create seemingly off-the-cuff comedic scenes, culminating in a live performance at the UCB Theatre. Though new classes are added every Tuesday and Thursday, they sell out quickly; check the online message board the night before for the posting time and be ready to pounce.

Whether you’re looking to fine-tune your moves or taking your first foray into dance, Steps on Broadway (2121 Broadway at 74th St; 212-874-2410, stepsnyc.com) can help. Pros from the New York City Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater come to learn new techniques at the 34-year-old institution,  but the studio’s regular series of Ultimate Introductory Adult Dance Workshops (Sept 22–Oct 27, check website for specific days and times; six classes $135) is suitable for complete beginners and covers ballet, hip-hop, jazz, tap and theater dance among other genres.


Self-improvement

Learn how to turn your skills, talents and work-life balance priorities into an actionable career plan that won’t have you singing the Monday-morning blues by Finding a Purposeful Career at NYU-SCPS (212-998-7150, scps.nyu.edu; Nov 7–21, Thu 6:30–8:30pm; three classes $175). Mind Your Own Business Moms (myobmoms.com) cofounders Pamela Weinberg and Barri Waltcher guide job seekers at every stage of their careers—from recent grads to late direction-shifters—to professional lives that offer purpose and a paycheck.

As sunny as your disposition may be, there’s always room for a little more happiness. At Hunter College’s Introduction to Positive Psychology (695 Park Ave between 68th and 69th Sts; 212-650-3850, hunter.cuny.edu/ce; Oct 5–Nov 9, Sat 10am–noon; six classes $199), educational consultant/International Positive Psychology Association member Aren Cohen delves into the relatively new field, teaching you to cultivate your positive traits and talents so that you can thrive in work, life and love.

If you often wish there were 25 hours in a day, business-education organization pdtraining’s Personal Productivity Training Course (245 Park Ave between 46th and 47th Sts, 39th Floor; 855-334-6700, pdtrainingusa.com; Sept 13 9am–4:30pm; $350) will help you make the most of the 1,440 minutes that you do have. Learn how to stop procrastinating, get organized, create routines, set goals, disconnect from your iPhone and become your most efficient self.

A regular routine is all well and good, but it’s the element of surprise that makes life interesting—those unexpected twists that turn an ordinary day into a memorable one. The Surprisology Lab at LifeLabs (357 W 36th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, lifelabsnewyork.com; Aug 13, 7–9pm) is a hands-on class that encourages participants to break out of their comfort zones by devising little surprises to make life more memorable for you and others. “LifeLabs is all about what scientists call ‘tipping point skills,’” says director LeeAnn Renninger. “The small day-to-day talents that help us make life more exciting, help us handle difficult situations and create kick-butt conversations.”


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