Tips for learning a programming language
When it comes to coding, I’ve been there and done it all. Not necessarily to the point where I would consider it to be my career but to understand it enough to make it a part of the largest project of my university years… my graduate project – the baby of my degree.
- I learnt to code for WordPress using .php in five weeks.
- I learnt to code for iOS devices using swift in five weeks.
With the right mindset, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Trust me on this. This advice is really generic and you can definitely apply this to other aspects of your life to suit the context. For me, when it comes to teaching myself a new skill, I go all in, if not, I’m better off not starting it. What is the point of starting something if you don’t finish it off nicely, am I right or am I right?
When it comes to learning programming languages, these are the things that kept me curious and kept me going: knowing what I want to do and what I can learn to help achieve what I intend to do – with the mindset that I will achieve anything I set my mind to.
What do you want to create?
Firstly, you’ll have to know what you want to create. Different languages can be used to create different elements, functions, etc and identifying this will help you use the right language to code as well as using the right platform for it. For example, if you were to want to create an iOS app, you’ll need to use Swift 5 and use Xcode on a Mac.
How are you supposed to know what you want to create? Ask yourself, if you were to make a better version of something, what would it be and why would it be better than the existing version. After you’ve answered that, you’ve pretty much answered what you really want to create. Even better, make something completely new that’s never been done before and keep on making it even better every time!
Design what you want to create
Make a rough sketch or design so that you know what elements and functions you’re creating, also note down what exactly that specific function will do so you can code accordingly. Learning a programming language is like telling a computer what to do by speaking its language.
Some people work better without doing the design first and just go with the flow. However, for me, knowing what I want to do and how I should do it pretty much lays the path to achieving it.
Connect with other developers
Sometimes working by yourself can take much longer to fix issues. However, I find connecting with people who do it as a career or are in like-minded Facebook groups who do coding will help as most of the time. Many of those people have already come across the issue before and most likely found a solution for it. For you to be able to solve problems faster sometimes requires asking those who know. At each stage of programming, you will come across many different issues which you’ll have to learn to debug. Sometimes it’s as easy as Googling but sometimes it can take solving the whole puzzle.
Don’t give up until you’ve achieved what you intended to create
Learning a programming language is a lifetime commitment. There will always be new things to learn and new bug to debug. There will always be room for improvement. Like Swift, sometimes there’s even an updated version of the language so be prepared to sign up to become a lifelong learner!
Just like learning any other skills that you are interested in, if you go in with the right mindset, you will learn a lot more than giving up once a first issue occurs. Keep going, everyone was once a beginner. That being said, I’ll leave you with this quote:
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”
― Helen Hayes