Do you want to learn a new programming language? There are several ways to learn a programming language. But, most of us are busy in our lives, and we don’t have much time to dedicate to learning a new programming language.
In the software industry, competition is really big; your time is the most valuable asset you have, so don’t waste it.
Often, you might want to learn a new programming language on the side while you’re doing your work in another language. So, it is important to learn the language quickly without wasting much time.
In this article, I want to give some cool tips to help you learn a new programming language as fast as possible. Let’s begin.
1. Define Your “What” And “Why”
Before you start learning a new programming language, you must define what you want to learn and why you want to learn it.
So, fill in the blanks given below and complete the sentence before you even start learning.
I want to learn________ so that I can do___________.
For example, I want to learn Java so that I can create an android application.
This is important because sometimes, you might not even need to learn a new programming language. Some people learn new programming languages just for the sake of learning. If you can answer the “what” and “why” before you start learning, you’ll not waste your time.
I cannot stress how important this aspect is. You must think carefully about what your needs are and why you want to learn a new programming language.
Answer to yourself: Do you want to make business software, video games, web applications, or utility software?
What platform do you want to program for? Windows-PC, Linux, mobile, or cross-platform?
Answer these questions, and you can save a lot of time and avoid having many frustrations in the future.
Each programming language has its pros and cons, and not all serve the same purpose. Some are suitable for general programming, some are better to develop business applications, while others are better for graphic-intensive programs.
Once you’re clear about that, do some research about what programming languages are good enough for your purposes.
After that, if you decide to learn a language, define what exactly you want to accomplish. Be very specific. You can write down the things that you want to learn and schedule your time.
I say this since a programming language consists of a lot of things. You might not want to learn everything at times. However, that doesn’t mean you skip through the fundamentals.
If you haven’t learned a programming language ever, you must give the most focus on learning the basics. That will set you up for all the complicated stuff that you’ll face in the future.
If you don’t know the fundamentals of programming, go for it first. There are plenty of online resources about that. There are many websites where programmers can look for free sample code, and also join the developer community.
Find the resources first. And, stick with it. If you’re taking an online course, find the right course that is suitable for you, and stick with it until you learn the language.
Otherwise, it can be pretty overwhelming since there are tons of material available online. There is a high chance that you’ll switch between all of them without really learning much. So, find the right resources and commit to learning the language.
If you already know a programming language, you have a better understanding of everything. Then, you can decide on the topics that you want to learn and skip.
In this regard, creating a mini-syllabus can be of great help. With this tool, you can obtain a general overview of the study program, and if it’ll cover your expectations.
Try to define/answer: What are the learning goals and learning outcomes, and what materials and resources are available for you?
2. Read Existing Code
If you have some programming background, this might be easier for you. The idea behind this is to see how much understandable the language is for you.
How clear is the syntax? Is it closer to machine language or closer to human language?
Try to pick up a piece of code and understand what it means and what it does.
There is a basic rule that all good programmers follow and is to put in comments alongside the code itself. This is to make the code easier to understand for other people.
This is of great help in understanding what a specific piece of code does.
You can find code on Github and other online platforms. Try to find some simple programs or projects and understand the code. When you do this, your brain will start asking questions, and you’ll get a lot of curiosity and doubts in your mind.
Then, when you back and learn the language, you’ll be able to get the answers to those questions. You’ll get a lot more clarity, and you’ll quickly learn when you’re curious about something.
Another reason for searching pieces of code online is that you can get a general overview of the volume of resources for the language you chose.
What does that mean for you?
You can check the type of projects the language is mostly used for.
There is enough on the type of resources you need? This is very important when you are going to work on new coding projects.
Whenever you learn anything new or get any questions or doubts while reading the code, write them down. Taking notes while you do this step will help you when you go back and learn the language.
3. Implement An Existing Project In The New Language
You can do this whether you have a programming background or not.
The idea of porting a small project you’ve already done in another language can help you a lot in learning the new syntax.
It will also help you to familiarize yourself with the resources the language has, as libraries and APIs (Application Programming Interface). You’ll be able to compare the features and functionalities of different languages.
On the other hand, if you’re a newbie, you can go and find a resource and pick up a small project.
Study the code, read the author’s comments, and try to understand how it works.
You can make a small general layout of the steps the code follows to give the results it’s supposed to give. If you already know what a flow diagram or an algorithm is, good. If not, no worries. Just write down all the steps that the code follows in a way you can understand. Make it simple.
Now, rewrite the entire program on your own. Try to do it step by step, in an organized manner.
Once you’ve rewritten enough, test the program. Rinse and repeat.
4. Find An Accountability Partner And Learn Together
Whenever you’re learning a new programming language or anything else, it’s always a good idea to have a mentor. It must be someone that already knows what you want to learn.
I’m not speaking about a traditional teacher – they tend to be less flexible.
An accountability partner is someone that agrees with you in being your guidance in any process you may need help. This could be business, a weight loss program, or in any learning process.
Simply put, “two heads think more than one.”
The ideal is that your partner has more advanced knowledge about the programming language you’re interested in. This partner might be someone at a more advanced level of your course.
But you know what?
You could also find an accountability partner online. You could use social networks, and there are also specialized websites/apps, where you can find accountability partners for your purposes.
This way, you can find more personalized help in learning what’s harder for you. You will also get more sincere and focused feedback on an agreed timely basis.
5. Do One Big Project In The New Programming Language
If you want to practice coding by solving coding challenges, you can go to websites like Hacker Rank. That’ll help you improve your coding skills.
Once you’ve internalized what I call the three “P”s of the learning process (practice!, practice!, practice!) proceed with the last step.
Here you will be applying everything you’ve learned, and you must have a vision for this. In my own experience, this requires good planning.
A big project could take you months. This depends on your level of expertise with both the new language and market you’re targeting the product for – and I’m giving you a clue here.
You’ll learn more in-depth about the new language, that’s true, but you will also develop a product. This product can be key for you to open the doors of a successful career or business.
By now, you should be thinking of some sample cases; does it come to your mind the name of any famous social network?
You need motivation because it might look overwhelming and intimidating to code a big project on your own. You must select an idea for the final product, but you can think of it as it’ll be a draft.
But keep a vision in your mind in order to gain motivation to successfully finishing the project.
Learning a new programming language is fun but challenging. If you want to learn a new programming language for whatever reason, you should learn the language in the right way.
For programmers like me and you, time is a really precious thing. But, we don’t want to compromise by skipping important topics and concepts. That’s why I thought about some non-obvious ideas and presented them to you in via this article.
If this article was helpful, do let me know in the comments section. Do you have any other ideas or tips that you want to share with everyone? If you have any, comment them down below. I’ll be happy to respond.
If you think this article will help someone else as well, share it via social media. I would really appreciate it.