Anyone who has ever started learning another language will probably have heard the question: How can you learn a new language? It’s not as easy as it seems, is it? Somehow, we humans are born with an innate understanding of how to produce the sounds that make up a new language, and once we learn that, we can pick up any other language with little difficulty.
The key is imitating the process that native speakers use to speak or write. This requires us to break down the complex process of learning into its smallest components in order to recreate it again. So how do you go about doing this? By breaking down everything you know about coding so far into its simplest parts and then progressively building those back up until you’ve reached fluency.
What do you already know about coding?
First, we’ll talk about what you already know about coding. What’s most important to remember here is that you don’t have to know every little detail of how coding works. You only need to know the basics: what an “if-then-else” statement is and how a “for-each” loop works.
Now that we know what you already know about coding, let’s talk about concepts that will help you become a better coder. One of the first things to understand is that coding is not just a language. It’s a system that involves writing programs, so you need to understand what makes up the system. This is where programming concepts come in handy.
First on our list is the idea of programming languages and environments. Programming languages might be the same language you use to speak with your friends, but they’re different environments that work together to create the system of programming. So, what are some of the programming environments you’ll find out there?
- Python is a general-purpose programming environment that comes with the Python programming language. It’s the programming language you’ll probably use the most.
- Java is a programming language that runs within the Java programming environment. You’ll find this environment used in many large systems that depend on complex calculations and algorithms.
- Visual Basic is a popular programming language developed by Microsoft that runs inside the Microsoft Visual Studio environment. This environment is commonly used in business.
- Python and Java are examples of programming languages, while Visual Basic and Microsoft Visual Studio are programming environments. Each programming language has its own vocabulary, rules, and style of writing code. You’ll need to get used to this if you want to become a good coder.
Code organization and structure
Now that we’ve covered the different components of coding, let’s talk about how those components are organised in code. If you’ve taken a programming class in the past, this might seem obvious to you, but knowing how these things are organised is an essential skill that will help you be a better coder.
There are two main components to code that we’ll be focusing on, and they’re both important at the same time: organisation and structure. The organisation is the way code is written, while the structure is the way that pieces of code are arranged within the organisation. These two things might sound like they’re unrelated, but they’re actually inseparable. If you mess up one, it can have a huge impact on the other.
Why do we code?
Now that we’ve covered the organisation and structure of code, let’s talk about why we code. If you’ve ever wondered what the point of all of this is, you might find an answer by examining why we code. You might have heard the saying “the point of a computer is to find patterns.”
That’s because computers are essentially pattern-seeking machines. They’re not just physical objects that store data and perform calculations; they’re also pattern-seeking machines that can spot patterns and use them to solve problems.
The importance of learning programming fundamentals
One last thing we need to cover before wrapping this up is the importance of learning programming fundamentals. While you don’t have to know every little detail about how programming works, you do need to know the basics. This can help you avoid many common coding mistakes.
For example, if you know that spaces are used to separate code, you won’t accidentally indent other text because you got distracted while writing the code. If you know that curly brackets are used to group expressions together, you won’t accidentally leave out a curly bracket when you’re writing a function.
A quick reminder about how you can learn to program: don’t expect to sit down and instantly start coding. Learning coding is a process, just like learning any skill, and it takes time, practice, and perseverance. The best way to learn coding is to put in practice, accept that it takes time, and focus on one goal at a time.
First, take an intro to coding class, then learn programming on your own by creating apps and solving problems. Start small and focus on one goal at a time, and don’t get discouraged. With time and practice, you’ll get better at coding.