Best First Programming Language to Learn

Last modified
June 29, 2020
Time to read
2 min read

Photo by David Clode

Table of Contents

Context

When you're just beginning to learn to program, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. There are many programming languages to choose from. What should be the first programming language you learn?

When you are just starting out, don't worry about learning many different programming languages. I recommend picking one language and sticking with it at least until you feel you have reached a reasonable proficiency.

It's better to be good at one programming language than OK at many different programming languages.

Determine Your Goals

The first thing to ask yourself when beginning to learn programming is what are my goals? Different languages are better suited for different purposes. Knowing what you want to do with programming should simplify your decision for what you should learn.

The following table shows what language you should learn based on each goal. If you see the type of thing you want to build listed, then I recommend learning that corresponding programming language.

GoalLanguage
Web appsJavaScript
iOS appsSwift
Android appsKotlin
Video gamesC#
Video game enginesC++
Embedded systems, operating systemsC
Machine learning, data sciencePython

If you know you want to do programming but you aren't sure what your goals are yet, that is perfectly normal. In this case, I believe the first programming language you should learn is Python.

Hello Python

Python is a great first language because it is simple relative to other languages. When programmers learn a new programming language, the first program we always write is called Hello World. Hello World is a program that prints out the text "Hello World." In Python, to write a Hello World program, all we have to do is write

print('Hello World')

Compare this with the Hello World program written in the Java programming language.

class Hello {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println("Hello World");
  }
}

Without a doubt, writing Hello World in Python is simpler because you can print "Hello World" right away. In Java, you have to write a class and a method before you can print "Hello World."

Another reason I think Python is a good first language is that it is a popular language. According to a Stack Overflow survey, Python is the 2nd most popular programming language.

By learning Python, you are learning a language that is widely-used in industry. Python can be used to do a lot of things. Just to name a few, Python can be used for

Don't worry about learning these frameworks and libraries just yet. I just want to give you a taste of what Python is well-suited for. When you're just starting out, focus on learning the fundamentals.

Learn the Fundamentals

Learn how to answer the following:

  • What are the common data types?
  • What are conditional statements?
  • What are loops?
  • How to handle exceptional behavior?
  • What are functions?
  • What are classes and objects?

I personally like Automate the Boring Stuff for learning Python and also for learning how to make interesting projects. If you prefer videos, they have an accompanying Udemy course. I think this a fun course to get you up and running with your first programming language.

Your Journey Starts Now

Good luck on your path learning programming. Remember, there's always going to be things you don't know. There's so much that you could possibly learn, and there is no way you could learn everything. Figure out what it is you like about programming and stick with that. At the end of the day, have fun with it and build cool things.

Last modified
June 29, 2020
Time to read
2 min read

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