Learning a new language takes time, dedication, and patience, and programming languages are no different. There are no tricks or shortcuts to get you to know everything in a matter of days.
But, there are a few ways you can learn a new programming language faster and better retain the new knowledge. If you’re just starting your coding career or want to branch out into a new programming language, these tips may help.
1. Choose a language with purpose
Whether you’re learning code for the first time or furthering your education, you should know what you want to learn and why.
Are you interested in web development or game development? How about data science? Different programming languages have different applications, so you’ll want to have a goal in mind before choosing one. If you’re interested and engaged in a subject, you’ll grasp the material better and move along at a much quicker pace. Check out our free course Choosing a Programming Language to explore some of the most popular options and their applications.
2. Start with the basics
Once you’ve chosen the language you want to learn, start from the beginning and work your way up. You may be tempted to jump to intermediate courses or try taking on multiple classes at once, but it’s best to get the fundamentals down before moving on.
Jumping over the basics of programming could cause you to make mistakes that’ll show up later when you’ve progressed to more advanced materials. Then, you’d have to stop and work your way back, wasting valuable time.
In our free course Learn to Code with Blockly, we’ll introduce you to the universal concepts and methods shared by all programming languages, then you can jump into the language of your choice in courses like:
- Learn Java: For those interested in software development and mobile applications.
- Learn Python: A great choice for a first language because it’s easy to read and is used within web and software development.
- Learn HTML: If you want to create web pages, this is your first step.
- Learn C#: Start learning how to build video games and mobile applications with this popular programming language.
3. Practice the code
Practicing may seem like an obvious suggestion, but many people get lost in the learning process and forget that they need to do the work to fully understand it. Reading about how the language works and its different variables is helpful, but until you start coding and figuring out solutions on your own, you won’t truly understand it.
Completing projects is a great way to dive into the ins and outs of your new language. Once you get its basics down, check out our Challenge Projects to put your coding skills to good use.
There are also Portfolio Projects, which are included in each of our Career Paths. Portfolio Projects are a step above Challenge Projects, and they’re designed to showcase your mastery of the languages in your tech stack. Or, if Portfolio Projects are slightly above your pay grade, try out the mini-projects below:
- 10 HTML and CSS Code Challenges for Beginners
- 10 Python Code Challenges for Beginners
- 10 C++ Code Challenges for Beginners
- 10 Java Code Challenges for Beginners
4. Get out your pen and paper
Coding by hand is a time-consuming, perhaps “old-school,” technique, so you may wonder how this could help. Research shows that taking the time to write something down helps you retain the information better — which goes a long way when you’re trying to learn as quickly as possible.
Coding by hand also helps you get a deeper understanding of the code you’re working on. You’ll be able to clearly grasp the algorithms and syntax involved in each line of code as you write it out in front of you.
Another advantage of coding by hand is that it’ll help you prepare for technical interviews. These interviews involve solving coding problems with your preferred programming languages, and you might be asked to write your solution on a whiteboard. Practicing beforehand may give you an edge over the competition, and handwritten code showcases the full extent of your programming ability.
5. Use debugging tools and techniques
Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Learning a new programming language fast doesn’t mean skipping over those mistakes! By taking the time to understand and fix them, you’ll see what errors you made and how to avoid them going forward.
Since you’re still learning, figuring out your mistake may be difficult and time-consuming at first. Using debugging tools will expedite the process by identifying the mistakes in your code so you can fix them and continue working.
6. Set realistic goals and stick to them
We said at the beginning that learning a new language takes time, dedication, and patience.
; but it also helps to have an end goal — like a new career. Setting aspirational goals gives you something to work toward and can help reinforce your motivation. Check out our free course Choosing a Career in Tech to discover some of the most popular roles in the field. Maybe you’ll find something that could be right for you.
We also recommend setting aside a specific time for learning each week. Sticking to this schedule will provide you with the right structure to progress faster in your learning.
Patience comes into play when you’re having difficulty understanding a portion of code or when you want to be farther along than you are. Still, it’s important to know your limitations and be realistic in setting achievable goals.
Set time limits for how long you’ll work on a specific problem before moving on. If you have trouble finding a solution, step away from the problem until you’re in a better headspace to tackle it again.
Focus on the work at hand and do your best to eliminate any distractions. This will help you continue to quickly learn the language while grasping as much information as possible.
7. Take a course designed by a professional
Programming courses created by developers with years of experience in the IT industry can give you all the tools you need to launch your career. They have the skills and the knowledge to help you on your career path and are the best resource for the many questions you’ll undoubtedly have.
Ready to take your first course? Check out our catalog of programming courses.