Choosing a programming language to learn can feel like a loaded decision that will determine the fate of your coding career. And while selecting that first language is a memorable step, you always have the option to “take a mulligan,” or a do-over, and try another language.
In fact, you really can’t choose the wrong programming language to learn when you’re first starting out. Most programmers dabble in several programming languages as they advance in their careers, and since many languages share concepts and principles, you’ll be picking up valuable foundational skills regardless.
If you’re still feeling stumped, our free course Choosing a Programming Language will help guide you to a decision. We’ll introduce you to the most popular starter languages, explain the key factors to consider when you’re picking a language, and set you up with beginner-friendly courses and tutorials.
To prove that there’s no singular path to becoming a programmer, we asked members of the Codecademy team to share the very first language they learned and why they selected it. As you’ll see, everyone has to start somewhere — and no matter which language you land on, there’s always an opportunity to learn more.
“I learned PHP and MySQL at around the same time. I chose these because I wanted to create a website with content generated from a database; and to be totally honest, at the time PHP and MySQL was simply the most widespread/popular language combo for this.” – Ada Morse, Curriculum Developer, Data Science
“I learned to program in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s using a program on my Macintosh Plus called HyperCard. The language used was called AppleTalk. It resembled any procedural language like C and Pascal, both of which I learned shortly after. Pascal was the language used for my AP Computer Science course in high school. Macs did not support a lot of compilers at that time. I had to use friends’ PCs to do my AP CS work, and I carried a copy of the Pascal compiler on a 3.5″ floppy disc in my backpack.” – Jace Van Auken, Curriculum Developer
“My first programming language was Python, and I got introduced to it at my Intro to Programming course in college. I’d never done programming before college, and enrolled in the course with a vague interest in the concept of programming. It was really eye-opening to learn programming concepts in Python, which is why I eventually majored in Computer Science
Hopefully it’s reassuring to hear how experienced programmers navigated the early days of their coding careers. You have so many options to choose from depending on your goals, and there are unique benefits to learning each language. Be sure to check out the free Codecademy course Choosing a Programming Language — it’ll help you feel confident that you’re choosing the right language for you. And remember: If you change your mind and decide to learn something new, Codecademy has the courses and skill paths you need to get started.