What Programming Language Should I Learn to Start Codingby Matthew Baptist. Posted on Dec 13, 2019
One of the most common questions we get at SummerTech and Coditum is which programming language someone should be taking. In this post, we hope to give concrete advice for students in the most common situations we encounter, while also exploring how this question misses the forest for the trees.
Situation 1: You are brand new to programming
Many of the people asking this have never taken a programming class before and are genuinely curious about where to begin. Some may have heard of certain programming languages used to make their favorite games, apps, or fields and are interested to learn programming in it.
Python for Middle Schoolers
If you haven’t entered High School yet, I would strongly encourage you to begin learning with Python. Python is a widely popular and powerful programming language that is used in scientific computing, machine learning and AI, and web development, as well as a myriad of other fields. Python’s simpler syntax makes it easier to focus on learning the more valuable part of programming education; the logical thinking, problem solving, and engineering skills it takes to break apart complex and large problems and make software.
Java for High Schoolers
If you have begun High School already, I recommend starting with Java. While the syntax might be more intimidating than Python’s at first, starting with Java will prepare you to take the AP Computer Science A Test if you are interested or become interested in doing so. Java remains an incredibly widespread language in the industry and in upper level education, and like Python will provide a great foundation for learning problem solving and engineering skills.
Situation 2: Should I Start to Learn a Second Programming Language?
Many people who have been programming for a bit of time in one language ask if it’s a good idea for them to switch to learning another language. The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.
Learning another programming language is never a bad thing. Seeing the same concept in a new way can refine your understanding, create new connections, or increase your comfort level beyond what you had learned the first time you saw it. In addition, certain languages in particular might be well suited for learning specific programming models or concepts. C is often a great second language to learn because of how it can teach you about memory and be used as a vehicle to explore how other low level processes work. The idea here is to be tactical. Are there tools in this language that allow me to work on or learn about something that I’m interested in that I couldn’t otherwise do before? If not and you switch to another language you risk missing out on depth.…
Depth is probably the most important thing you can focus on when learning a programming language. As mentioned previously, often more important than the syntax and specifics of a language are the problem solving and engineering skills you learn by spending more time in a language and learning more and more advanced material. This can be more foundational skills, such as learning data structures and algorithms, the building blocks of most disciplines in computer science, or more applied skills such as web development, game development, and more. Most students that we talk to in this situation would benefit from going more depth, either in theory in application in one language than spend their time picking up a new language.
Consider a Programing Summer Camp or Group Coding Class
SummerTech offers coding camp experiences like no other in New York and Massachusetts that allow your child to further their understanding of programming languages, but more importantly, have fun and make friends in the process. Our 3 to 1 student to instructor ratio allows your child to receive a personalized learning experience. Contact us to register for a camp this summer.
For adults or children looking to further their coding knowledge, Coditum offers group classes year around in New York and New Jersey. Coditum Café allows instructors and students to meet in local New Jersey coffee shops to learn to code in a comfortable environment. Contact us to learn more about Coditum’s classes and Coditum Café.