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Best Programming Languages to Learn First

Best Programming Languages to Learn First
Written by Louise Vee

You’ve decided that you need to learn how to program.

Maybe you’re fresh out of high school or college and discovered that the only jobs you want require some understanding of computer programming.

Or maybe you’ve been in the tech field a while and you’d like to learn a programming language to either obtain a better position in the company, or learn enough so that you can better understand the IT department.

Or maybe you’ve been working on a product that needs an app and you’d like to program it yourself.

Whatever the reason, you’re looking to enter the ranks of computer programmers.

But what programming language should you start with? You’ve heard that maybe you should learn Java, C++, or maybe Python.  But which one should you choose first and why?


What are Your Goals?

Before discussing which programming language is the right one for you to learn, the first step is determining what your goals are in learning a computer language.

Are you looking to learn a computer language so you can get a job programming in that language? Do you want to learn a programming language because it will increase your skill set and make you more marketable? Are you looking to do something specific when it comes to programming, i.e., develop webpages or write an app for a smartphone?  Or do you simply want to learn a new skill?

All of these things are good when it comes to reasons for learning your first programming language.  These goals will help shape your choice for which programming language is best for you.

Choosing What’s Popular Now

Best Programming Languages to Learn First Senior Java Developer

If you’re looking to get a job coding, chances are you’ll want to look at the most popular programming languages at this time and choose one of them.  That way when you’ve mastered that language, you can include it on your resume for potential jobs.  But be careful!  Like so many fads, code popularity can come and go, which is why if you’re looking to continue working as a programmer, once you get one language learned, you’ll need to expand your knowledge further and learn other popular languages so you can stay current and relevant in the marketplace.  Plus what is popular now may not be popular four years from now if you decide to learn your skills at a university and get a degree.  Popular languages include:

  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • Objective-C
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • SQL

Do You Have a Specific Goal in Mind for Programming?

Best Programming Languages to Learn First

Let’s say you have a goal in mind for programming: you want to create a smartphone app or create a game.  In that case, let your goal be your guide and choose a language, such as Java if you’re planning on writing an Android app.  (iOS on iPhones use Objective-C).

Depending on what platform (hardware and operating system) you will be running the game, you may be using GML, C++, or Delphi, to name a few. Often learning your first language can be difficult, which makes choosing a language you’re motivated to learn that much more important. That way, you won’t feel like you’re wasting your time learning something you may never program in again.

Should You Choose an Easier Language?

Like spoken and written languages, there are easier and harder computer languages. If you’re not constrained to a particular language, choose one that isn’t as complex as some others.  Learning an easier language has its positives too.  Most languages have similar formats and concepts so that you can move easily from one to another just by learning the basic syntax. Script languages are usually easier to learn than what is considered more complex programming languages.  Languages such as C#, Java, Ruby, Python, or Javascript are going to be easier to learn than C++ and C.

The Ones We Recommend

In our opinion you can’t go wrong starting with the old faithfuls like C#, Java or JavaScript, and then progress to more hadcore c/c++ or branching off into web technologies.

A simple first program in C# forms can be found here.

A simple Hello World javascript example from a Windows command line can be found here.

And a Java Hello World tutorial.

Avoid Obscure Programming Languages

Learning obscure programming languages can be fun — if you know other languages and are just trying the obscure language out.  But if you’re planning on putting your knowledge to good use, it’s important to choose a language that is being used by companies now.  While you may be the one in a million who knows how to program in LISP or COBOL, you’ll be in a niche market with few options if you want to change companies.  Also while there is a demand for these languages, their syntax and structure are different than programming languages used in today’s jobs.

The other problem with obscure programming languages is that you’re often limited to certain computers and operating systems — some that will not port to other platforms.

Also Read: [6 Easy Ways your Kids Can Learn To Code]

Not That Important

In the end, your first computer language you learn isn’t that important if you’re looking to build a foundation where you can learn other languages. Once you learn one computer language, it becomes relatively easy to learn another.  As mentioned earlier, most languages have similar structures and syntax, so when you learn one, you can quickly learn the syntax of another.

So, which is the best language to learn?  Choose one that suits your needs and is easier to learn.  That wat you can be productive and also learn the basic concepts of programming.

About the author

Louise Vee

Tech Geek and Traveler by heart. Loves Wildlife, Nature and Street photography. Cancer survivor.

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