What Best Programming Language Should I Learn First?

Review of choosing which programming language is the best to learn first as a beginner

Often a stumbling block to coding, deciding what language you should learn first as a beginner is a choice that stymies many would-be coders into submission. Looking at the syntax, or the way a code is written, looks like gibberish to many especially with low-level languages. Fortunately, whatever language you choose to learn, you have made the right decision.

The Which Language Should You Choose?Picking a programming language between the most common languages (c, java, python, php)

Whether you are a complete beginner or looking to enhance your knowledge, any language is the right one. Only if you are willing to put in the time and effort, however. Unless you are learning an obsolete language with only a niche market, the skills you acquire from learning a language to fluency can carry over into any other language. For instance, we look to original C as the “Latin” of languages. That is, most languages derive their syntax and arrangement from it, with few exceptions. Find a starting point to begin from: once you have learned one language, the next one comes easier.

For instance, in most markets, Web design is the most prevalent of tasks. In this instance, learning HTML is a necessity and other, more specific scripting languages like JavaScript, CSS, and PHP may be required. Places that have centers of technology may require web developers, who use Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Java, and similar languages that are required to maintain Web applications. Also, desktop programmers who know C/C++, Java, or Visual Basic may be required. There are other places that may have more specific needs but these represent possibly the largest career market. Mobile development outside a corporation remains a cottage industry, so you may well work on a mobile project in Java, XML or Swift just about anywhere. 

If you are interested in a certain career path, you should look at job postings for jobs in areas that fit your desires. Look at the requirements. If you identify your dream job requires AJAX, learn it. 

Failing all else, Java is probably the language with the greatest pull in all markets. It is a robust language for desktop, mobile, and Web development and translates easily to other languages such as Objective C, Swift, Android Development Kit, JavaScript, C/C++, and so on.

 

Follow Your Passion industryBeing happy with the decision on which language is most important

Pursuing a language that does something you do not need nor care about will have the result of boring and frustrating you. There is little use to learning C++ if you don’t intend to write desktop applications, and likewise learning JavaScript is of little use to desktop programmers. If you are a Web designer, learning HTML, JavaScript, or PHP would be useful. Web developers should learn Python, JavaScript, Ruby, or another back-end language. Desktop developers do well when learning C, C++, and Java. Those who intend to write for mobile devices are best learning Java for Android or Swift for iOS.

Beginners might be better off starting with learning code language such as Scratch, BASIC, or even the learning language Pascal which resembles Python and was used extensively in the 90s. Tools and compilers for these are still available. While not production tools, they can be used as foundation builders for a skill set.

Cost of Entry For Coding

Computer Programming is inherently easy, but it requires work, determination, and a desire to learn. However, there’s a big difference between learning Ruby or Python with almost plain English commands and Kernigan and Ritchie C from the 1970s with smaller commands and lots of punctuation in its syntax. 

Moving from one language you have learned to a harder one is easier than starting out with the hardest language and moving to easier ones. That said, if you can learn C or Java, the move to other languages is easier than moving from Python to Java. Only your level of interest, determination, and desire as well as resources paves the way to success.

The biggest qualifier is to choose a language that fits the type of coding you wish to be doing and that you can reasonably tackle. Once you have chosen a language, don’t give up if you don’t grasp it right away. Push on, and you’ll find that it gets easier as you go along. But try to start with a language that fits your level of experience. Build a foundation and move up from there.

 

Online Programming ResourcesRecommended Training for learning Coding as a beginner

Everyone needs an instruction manual, and help from time to time. Besides the online resources to learn from, sometimes we need an external source for help. Consider how much of a developer community exists for each language before jumping in. Especially for newer and larger languages, there are often developer communities and forums where you can find answers to your questions and find code sections that can add to your finished project. 

The manufacturers of the product that you are using often have tools and resources available too. Oracle supports the Java technologies, Apple supports Swift, Google supports Android. There are many more examples. They, and other companies, provide documentation, tutorials, code examples, the development software, and are usually host to the developer community.

Resources available should not be the only selling point to a language, but if you are new to coding it is a consideration as the help available may be relevant should you get stuck or not understand a concept while learning a new language.

 

Adaptability

Languages have families. Once you have learned one set of syntax, you can almost slide right into a second language. For instance, Pascal, Ruby, and Python are all very similar. C, C++, Objective C, Java, and Swift are all very close in syntax. HTML and XML are similar as well. The list goes on. If there is a language that you choose to learn and you need to learn another language, often the language you already know is adaptable to the skills of the next step. You can go from programming desktop applications in C++ to writing mobile apps in Java with little learning and effort as the syntax of the two languages is very similar. Much the same, you can go from C++ or Java to Apple’s Swift with few changes in the syntax. 

 

Deciding on a Language to learnFiguring out which language is the one that suits your needs most

Once you have determined what your passion is, and what you want to do, decide on a language and stick with it. Too often, programmers in training get frustrated or stalled and walk away unfinished.

What you do is not as important as how well you do it. If you don’t finish the course, you’ll not develop the skills that allow you to fully implement the programming language. Stay with it and gain the ability to adapt that learning to another language.

Career coders commonly learn dozens of languages over the course of a career. Be prepared for the challenge, and get used to the idea of staying the course. The rewards are worth the effort. Once you are fluent in one or more languages, you suddenly become a candidate for jobs you otherwise would not be able to do. Sometimes, an employer is more interested in the fact that you are fluent in one of the current foundation languages than they are in what language. Finishing a course of training shows discipline, and most importantly, the ability to be trained. Don’t give up.

Decide on a language, and realize that whatever you choose, the language you learn is not as important as learning a language itself. Employers and others will know you can evolve from there.

If you’re looking for a list of our recommendations as to which languages to learn first, they will follow. They are ordered by industry, and represent the most prevalent language per industry with the language that is the most desirable first. If you cannot decide on a language but want to start in an industry start with:

Conclusion

Being a coder does take work and discipline. When you decide to take on the challenge, discover the resources available. Your language skills are adaptable, so once you’ve learned one language you can pick up others quite easier. You cannot go wrong picking a language that is in common use, and there are plenty of discussions and resources for you. Get to work, and don’t let anything stand between you and a career in coding. 

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