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The digital world has grown greatly within the last decades and nowadays seemingly all electronic devices are connected to the internet, from refrigerators to toasters, and all of them need programming in order to function properly. This technological boom has opened countless new job prospects for people with a more mathematical mind in software development.
With countless resources out there on the internet, it seems that anyone can learn to program nowadays, but this brings about another problem. Such a large amount of easily accessible information got many people lost with one question: where should I start?
While there are hundreds of different programming languages out there with their own functions and syntaxes, many of them follow the same program structure & logic, and learning one will make it easier for you to learn much more. Although we cannot tell you which programming language will be most useful for your personal projects or will allow you to build a career in software engineering, we can suggest which one will be more beginner-friendly and has enough functionality to cover a wide range of uses.
The programming language we recommend learning first if you are a complete beginner to computer programming is Python.
What is Python?
Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. It is famous for having a simple and easy-to-learn syntax, making it perfect to learn for people unacquainted with programming. Due to its popularity, there are countless resources out there to help you learn the language and making it easy for you to find assistance when you get stuck while writing your code.
Although originally thought to be a gap-filler that was mainly used to write scripts that automate repetitive tasks or to rapidly prototype applications that will be implemented in other languages, nowadays it became a major force in web application development and systems management.
Despite scripting and automation being the major use cases for Python, it is also used to build professional-quality software for both standalone applications and web services. It may not be the fastest programming language out there, however, what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in versatility.
How to Learn Python?
With the amount of information out there on the internet, it is easy to not know where to start. Here’s our suggestion, before taking any further steps on finding the materials to learn from, you should simply install it on your computer and get acquainted with its user interface. That is the first and most important step in learning any programming language; to just start coding something. It could be a simple “Hello World” program or something more complex if you already know a little bit about programming, but that should get you into the mindset of writing code. Although knowing the theory is also important, the best way to learn a new skill is practice, practice, and more practice; programming is no different. Now, let’s move on to the different resources you should use to learn the language.
1. Online Courses
This is probably the most popular way people learn a programming language, and rightfully so. Having a structured plan written by expert software developers is very beneficial as compared to not having one. Any programming course worth its money will have several dozen hours of video lecture material, multiple downloadable resources, and a few coding exercises for you to practice. This is where you can find them:
Considered as one of the best online course providers for just about any skill, Udemy also has over 10,000 different Python programming courses for complete beginners and seasoned coders alike. The prices are also quite affordable, with many courses costing as little as $15.
Another name you will hear a lot when discussing learning programming, not only for Python but also other popular programming languages such as Java and C++.
- Learn Python the Hard Way
This is the most popular beginner Python course out there. You do not need to have any experience and the course will teach you everything from level 0 to higher levels while also providing exercises to test and implement what you have been learning.
Yet one more popular online course provision site that also includes programming languages. Courses such as “Python for Everybody Specialization” from the University of Michigan are what makes this resource stand out from the rest.
2. Books about Python Programming
Although seemingly outdated in the digital age, there is a reason why most of the world’s educational institutions still use traditional books as the main method of teaching; they work… for some. This solely depends on what type of learner you are. Some people prefer to have things explained to them by words, while others remember things better if they read it somewhere or write it down. In the end, it all comes down to what works for you. If you are one of the people that prefer learning from books, here are some you should check out about Python programming:
- Python Crash Course by Eric Matthes
- Learn Python 3 the Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw
- Think Python: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, 2nd edition by Allen B. Downey
- Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 4th edition by Al Sweigart
Do, however, keep in mind that as time goes on and new features get added and old ones removed, there might be some things that do not work the same way anymore. Regardless, the basic elements, data structures, and logic will most likely stay the same, making these resources a good way to learn the programming language.
3. YouTube Tutorials
This option is best for the visual learners out there. Since Pythons is currently one of the most popular programming languages, there are thousands of hours of Python tutorial videos out there. Simply type “python tutorial” into YouTube’s search bar and you will be greeted with a seemingly countless amount of results. Pick the video that catches your eye the most and start learning.
One huge piece of advice we can give you if you decide to go down this route is to try out everything you see on the video yourself, as practicing is the only way to truly get better. Switch some things around, have different variables, try to not only remember what you see done in the video but to understand how it is done.
4. Coding Bootcamps
This is the most extreme and most expensive way one could learn programming. Most of the time, they include physically attending a classroom where you learn for anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours a day, however, online coding bootcamps also exist. They usually last between 2 and 6 months and provide you with a certificate upon completion.
Although pricey, they provide you with a proper classroom atmosphere where you have mentors and work both individually and in groups on coding assignments. This solution, despite not being necessary for most, is a great way to become work-force ready within a short period of time. It could also give that extra nudge to people that struggle with discipline and can’t force themselves to study on their own (hey, we don’t judge).
There are also other ways to learn programming, such as attending a university or finding yourself a mentor, but the aforementioned ways more than enough if you have the dedication for it. Of course, the examples we for each different way are only a few of hundreds, and in some cases, thousands. If you feel like we should add something extra to the list, comment it down below and we are sure the other readers would be glad to see it.