How to Learn a Programming Language

The journey of how to learn a programming language can be confusing as there are many languages to consider. Which one will do the most good for your career or a specific project? 

While each language can be quite different, there are several key principles to keep in mind. As long as you stick to them, you will be prepared for any programming challenge or situation. Let’s examine each one. 

  1. Choose Your Language

The millions of websites, software programs, and mobile applications active today do not follow the same blueprint. Most are built around different programming languages. These include the following: 

  • Python
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • C#, C, or C++
  • Go
  • R
  • Swift
  • PHP

There are others. Northeastern University has done a great job of keeping a running tally at this link

  1. Learn Code Structure

Code structure is an important part of learning any language. This will differ from one language to the next, but pay attention to a few simple areas when starting out with, say, the C sharp programming language.

  • Syntax: these are the symbols, letters, and numbers that enable structured expressions or statements within a particular programming language
  • Keywords: these are the specific words a programming language will recognize
  • Data types: the indicators within a programming language that define how specific data is intended to be used 
  • Operators and parsers: if you see something like x+y=z written within code, those are operators. Parsers enable the compiling of the information within the code.
  • Functions: a command that can be repeatedly applied throughout the code without having to be written out each time. 

Writing out each of these for the various programming languages would result in a wall of confusing letters, numbers, and symbols if you’re just starting out. That’s why we recommend focusing on these key areas for whatever language you’re targeting. 

  1. Walk Before You Run

Many, when starting out, want to know how long does it take to learn a new programming language. Well, that’s up to you.

However, you can significantly speed up the time it takes by starting simple. Grab an in-depth tutorial for your programming language, starting with just a few lines of code at a time. As you get the hang of it, you can graduate to more advanced applications.

Advancing with a language like C sharp, for example, might lead you to expand the library of terms beyond the basics. You can find great tools online, like this C# Excel Library, to help your journey.

  1. Take Formal Classes

Classes should be offered for the different programming languages in your area at universities or from tech companies and local professionals working in your industry. Whether accredited or not, it can be well worth your time and money if you have the right teacher.

  1. Gain More Experience

Consider reaching out to area small businesses and startups. Offer your coding language expertise for free to get your foot in the door and some projects under your belt. Parlay those into paying jobs as you go.

Conquering How to Learn a Programming Language Will Open Doors

Once you know how to learn a programming language, you can apply that to various other programming languages and open doors for yourself with small businesses, tech companies, and your own personal projects. Best of luck as you pursue your education!

For more tech-related tips, check out some of our additional posts!