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Whether you are a newbie to programming, an experienced developer or a self-taught programmer, learning a new programming language fast is always a challenge.
In fact, learning a new programming language is more challenging than learning the first one because you can’t use the knowledge of a previous programming language as they are different.
Many people are very excited in the beginning while learning to code but leave midway when they find it difficult. In this article, you will find ways to help you learn a new programming language faster and in a seamless manner.
The below-mentioned methods will help you begin your coding journey and give it a kick start.
Code something more meaningful than “Hello World”
A long time ago in a land far away, it became convention, no, tradition, for your first program in a new language to be “Hello World”.
While that’s all fine and good when did “Hello World” become the most meaningful first application of a new programming language? Why not do something bold and unexpected? Why not build something that will actually teach you how a new language works?
Instead, make your first program in a new language something meaningful. Now is the time to truly test out what’s under the hood and see how it all works.
The trick is to design a program that gives you a basic understanding of how the language handles fundamental concepts, such as printing out strings, accepting input from a user, storing this input for later use, handling simple algorithms, implement data structures, and handling errors.
This could take the form of a game that becomes smarter as more input is given to it from the user, a program that tries to diagnose your symptoms and becomes more accurate the more symptoms you give it, or a simple blog that offers users more accurate reading recommendations as it receives more input on what the user likes to read.
Learn the language first, the frameworks second
Programmers, like dogs, can become easily distracted by the next new shiny object (or squirrel) that comes across their path.
This is especially common when the whole reason for learning a new language is to be able to use the frameworks that go along with it. Believe me, I’ve fallen into the same trap.
Frameworks are built on the programming concepts of the languages they belong to. Without knowing the language, you wouldn’t be very familiar with how to use the framework.
For example, say you are presented with a hammer in a country where you don’t speak the language. You have never used a hammer before and you have no idea what it could be used for. A native of that country tries to tell you how to use the hammer, but they’re doing it in their native language. You don’t understand a single bit of the language, so you have no idea how you’re supposed to use the hammer. Short of having the person use the hammer on you so you understand how it works, the next logical step might be to learn a bit of the language so you can understand how to use a hammer.
In other words, you need to learn the language before you can use the tool (the framework)
Strive for understanding, not perfection
I don’t understand why the world is obsessed with writing perfect code.
Sure, writing the cleanest, most efficient code is definitely something to strive for. However, I think this is where people fall into traps.
Coding, in a lot of ways, is like writing. The problem people have with writing is that they get so caught up with perfection, that they don’t actually get many words or ideas down on the page. The same problem can arise with people coding. Instead of being okay with making mistakes and writing bad code, many will focus the majority of their time on writing the cleanest, shortest, and most effective code possible.
While writing the cleanest, shortest, and most effective code is a fantastic long term goal that everyone should aspire to, it’s not something worth focusing on when learning a new programming language on the fly. For example, it doesn’t make sense to jump right into lambda functions when a method will work perfectly fine. There are a time and a place for lambda functions, but the focus right now should be understanding the basics of the new language.
Striving for perfect code the first time you learn a new programming language would be similar to feeling the need to learn all of your verb conjugations, feminine and masculine nouns, and the sentence structure of a natural language before visiting a new country. In reality, all you need to know is how to say a few simple phrases, a couple of swear words, and have a general understanding of how to read the language so you don’t end up somewhere you shouldn’t. Everyone will understand you, even if you’re speaking the language in a roundabout fashion that isn’t always perfect.
Understand the fundamentals
Many people tend to ignore programming fundamentals because it seems very easy or boring and move on to the next chapter.
This leads them to get stuck on the advanced concepts of programming, and hence they have to return to the fundamentals again, and therefore they end up wasting a lot of time.
So if you want to learn programming faster, you should never miss your programming 101 classes.
Understand the basics and then onto the next part.
Learn by doing
As they say, practice makes a man perfect, and it is pervasive in all the activities, let alone learning a programming language. You have to practise your coding skills regularly. You can’t just read a topic from a book and leave it and never come back.
You have to make your hands dirty. When you practice coding, you will face many problems, and to solve them, you have to revisit the topic. This simple practice will help you retain all information for a longer period.
When you write your code and play with it, try new codes, experiment with it, and look at the results, you will find errors that you will optimise. This regular practice will make you a better programmer.
You can work on personal projects, participate in hackathons, play coding games and many more things.
Practice Coding with Pen & Paper
You must be wondering why you should be coding by hand. It is time-consuming; you can’t check if your code is right midway, and the application of coding is only possible on a computer.
So why should you code by hand?
Well, the reason is the interview.
In interviews, the candidate is often asked to write a code on paper or a whiteboard. Also, for school or college exams, you need to show your coding skills on paper.
Coding using pen and paper will make you a more sound developer as you will be more cautious about writing since you can’t check your progress midway.
Such old school programming tips and tricks will increase your proficiency and will help you program faster and easier.
Discuss and ask for help
One great way to learn a new programming language faster is to get involved in discussions. Discussion helps us to recall and retain our learning; also, through discussion, you will get new information from your peers that you might not be aware of.
This makes the learning process interesting and fun.
Similarly, asking questions and seeking feedback is a great way to learn to program. Coders are also always excited to teach amateurs and help them learn. This is a great way to identify your mistakes and understand a concept from different perspectives.
Use online resources
If you don’t find an answer, ask someone and if you don’t get your answer from them too, look for online resources.
There are tons of YouTube videos, articles and Quora answers that will explain the same concept differently and help you learn programming on your own. These resources can help you learn and understand complex topics quickly and easily.
Learn to use the debugger
A debugger is to programmers what Grammarly is to content writers. In programming, making a lot of mistakes is very common, and it is completely acceptable. A debugger will tell you the errors that you made while coding.
Check your errors and run some code, check again, find more errors, and run some more code. Eventually, you will become more efficient and make fewer mistakes.
This is one of the most common ways to learn coding faster.
If you think that sitting in front of the computer for hours and trying to understand everything in one go will make you a good programmer, then you are completely off track. This way, you will never retain whatever coding you learnt.
Instead, it is better to learn coding in chunks. A technique like the Pomodoro technique, where you have to learn with the focused attention of 25 min and then take a 5 minutes break, can be helpful. Do 2 to 3 cycles of it. This is one of the best programming tips and tricks used by several developers.
This will give you a good time to refresh your mind and start again with a new perspective. This will make you learn programming faster.
These are all the ways to learn coding faster. We just want to say that remember not to quit when you start your programming journey. In the midway of your journey, you might think that this path is not for you or you are not smart enough to become a coder, but remember that to become a good programmer, it takes patience and consistency.
Gradually, you will see that your logical reasoning is improving; you are making fewer errors, completing your task faster, and becoming a better programmer.
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