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Tips For Students Choosing Their First Programming Language

More and more colleges offer their students the opportunity to try their hand in coding.

With technologies continuing making massive inroads people’s our everyday lives, such professions as a computer programmer, web developer, software engineer, mobile app developer, and others ranks among the best paying and on-demand. No wonder, so many students, even those who initially chose completely different majors, strive to become conversant with popular programming languages. Being able to write code and program is not only promising, it’s prestigious. But slews of your learners find themselves plagued by some concerns and doubts we’ll try to dispel in today’s article. What’s more, we’ll help you answer the hardest questions most beginners ask themselves when tackling programming and choose the programming language you’ll be most comfortable with.

Table of Contents

Is It Once and For All?

Some people have successful careers with one programming language. But most developers know several different languages. And many change their focus until they find the language that best suits their field of expertise, job, and personal preference. Whatever language you start with, it does not have to be the only language you ever learn. Expect to expand your horizons and thus your career prospects by mastering more languages.

Are Languages Dramatically Different?

Programming languages seem very different from each other. Syntax or rules really vary between languages, since each language was developed to solve unique problems, as you may know. That being said, languages share some common concepts. Therefore, learning one language considerably simplifies learning the other. And as you choose your next language, you’ll learn more about your first one, something that you might miss the first time through.

What to Do if I Think I’ve Chosen the Wrong Language?

It’s not a secret that some languages are harder to master that the others, especially if you’re just at the beginning of your coding quest. However, every language has been someone’s first and they’ve been through the same hardships and tribulations you’re experiencing now. If you think that you’ve picked the wrong language, the reason for that might be your language’s syntax is too verbose. Still, you can also be experiencing a challenge most beginners need to take up when they start learning programming. Make no mistake, learning a new language go hand in hand with challenges you need to meet head on. And if you enroll in nice programming language courses, the odds are good your learning quest will be even fun.

Expert Advice. Though you may feel tempted to dive straight into coding and scripting, you should start by learning the basics. If you’re new to programming, don’t expect the learning process will be smooth and effortless. Start small and general, gradually progressing to something more complicated and specific. Like says Anna Rominski, MSc IT, serving as an IT consultant and technical writer at PapersOwl.com “It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic concepts of writing application code and fundamental concepts in programming languages. After that you can safely proceed to study some particular language and try to create some simple apps or web pages on your own”.

After you learn the basic concepts of programming, you may find that the next concepts are more challenges. You even may want to give up and switch to another language. That’s the surest sign you should try even harder. Push through your confusion, take good notes, and try your best to achieve self-improvement.

Languages to Consider Learning

HTML and CSS

Students often begin by learning HTML and CSS. These two languages are essential for creating static or unchanging web pages. For those of you who don’t know, pretty much everything on the Internet uses HTML and CSS to some degree, from simple website to huge and complex applications. HTML is indispensable for structuring text links and other content like video and images on the web. CSS is a styling language used for modifying the appearance of the content of web pages. Just as HTML is used for content of web pages, CSS is used for presentation of that content. If you’re into creating websites, you may want to set your sights on learning these languages.

Java

It’s not a secret that Java is among the most popular programming languages used in enterprise software and native Android apps. A good number of tech companies around the world use Java to create large-scale applications. Uber, Airbnb, Twitter, and many others used Java in their tech stack, which means that finding a good job as a Java developer won’t be a problem for you.

JavaScript

JavaScript has ranked as the most popular programming language for seven years, and for good reason. It’s the only language that can actually be understood by a web browser. You can write JavaScript code and simply open it up in a browser. The browser can parse through the code, interpret it, and then run the program. Lots of world’s powerful apps like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter were built using JavaScript. JavaScript is also an excellent tool for creating mobile apps. So, if you’re dreaming of developing apps for iPhones and Android smartphones, JavaScript can be your best bet.

With this in mind, you can decide which programming language you want to learn first and where to start your programming quest.

Author

Hugo Di Francesco

Co-author of "Professional JavaScript" with Packt. He runs the Code with Hugo website helping over 100,000 developers every month and holds an MEng in Mathematical Computation from University College London (UCL). He has used JavaScript extensively to create scalable and performant platforms at companies such as Canon and Elsevier.

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