5 steps to learn a programming language
I will advise you how I think it’s best to learn a programming language, based on my 13 years plus experience as a developer.
I will split this into 5 steps, to be easier to follow.
I will assume you will not go to an IT college for this and will learn everything from free sources online.
In order to learn programming, first you have to pick a programming language.
You then play a little with it, with some easy exercises and a minimum of documentation.
After you get comfortable with basics, you are ready for a complete course in that language.
I prefer video courses.
After your knowledge about the language has increased you are ready to start learning a framework in the language you chose.
And the final step and the goal of all this is to prepare you to create a real project using that framework.
1. Pick a programming language
First step is to pick a programming language.
It is important to pick a programming language.
I will explain what advantages each language has in the pick a language section.
You will want to avoid getting stuck in switching between languages and never getting to really know any.
Of course, if you find that you don’t like a certain language after you chose it, you might switch, but this should be the exception.
2. Do basic exercises and read a minimum of documentation
After picking a programming language, it is important to get accustomed to it, and begging programming.
You can start with the exercises I show in this course.
Then you can proceed with the external resources i present in the exercises section.
Once you understand the basic syntax and way of thinking of a developer, you are ready for a complete course in that language.
You should advance once you have a basic understanding of variables, data types and collections like arrays or lists.
Collections and iterating through them can be a hard concept for some beginners so you have to have patience.
Also you have to learn now how to use control structures like if, while, for, foreach.
And finally you have to know the basics of working with a function and an object.
After learning the basics of all these, I think you are ready for the next step.
You might even try it before if you feel like you would like more information on what you are learning.
3. Take a complete (video) course on that language
The third step is to take a complete course on that language.
Watching a complete video tutorial when i was a beginner/intermediate helped me get a strong grip on the intermediate level.
It helped me fill all the missing parts from my knowledge about the language.
This course should be a few hours long and should take you through all the features of the language.
If you prefer books, there are a lot of good books that describe all the mechanics of any language.
There is also the language manual that for some languages is really good.
It’s ok if you don’t understand everything, as long as you understand most of it and are exposed to new things.
4. Take a complete (video) course on a framework in that language
The fourth step is to take a complete course on a framework in that language.
Public frameworks bring common utility features and are usually written by some of the best developers in a certain language.
They are like the foundation on which you can write your code, so you don’t start each project from zero and concern yourself with basic things.
At this point you should have a good grasp on the basics and knowledge on all the language features, but not a lot of experience.
Even so, I think it’s time you learn a framework.
You should do what worked for you at the last step, a 4-10 hours video, a book or the manual, but for a framework this time.
You shouldn’t worry if you don’t understand everything.
We are just laying the foundation for the final step which is the project.
5. Make a project in that framework
The fifth and final step is to make a project in the framework you learned about.
Everything has been leading up to this.
What project should you build?
Well, it’s up to you.
A mobile app that helps people in some way.
A website that solves a small problem that people have.
A small game.
You can even build an app for someone else.
It’s all up to you.
You will run into problems.
You will have forgotten things.
Things about the programming language.
Things about the framework.
This is fine.
Because you have the language course and the framework course, you know exactly where to go to look for answers.
Not to mention that you can google your problems and you will probably find the answers.
During the last 14 years I noticed that the best way to learn something is to run into a problem and work at solving that problem.
The solution will stick in your mind for years after that.
Even if at first you will progress slowly, the pace will pick up as you learn how to properly use the language and the framework.
When you finish your project, you will be basically a programmer, even if a junior one.
And you can prove it with the project you’ve built.
This lesson is part of my course: How to learn programming and become a programmer
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