Every now and then, programmers will need to learn a new programming language. There are many ways to do this. As you’re a programmer, and because you have programming experience, there might be a different method for you. Let’s take a look at a few ways that programmers can learn a new programming language.
There are a range of different methods to learn a new programming language. You may have used some of them, and some may be new to you. I’ll go over some of the different methods here.
1. Learn by Reading a Textbook
One of the oldest ways to learn a new programming language (and to learn anything, really) is by reading a textbook.
There are hundreds of textbooks available that teach programming languages. Everything from Java to Rails to Assembly to Pascal. Pretty much every programming language will have a textbook available for you to learn it. Learning from textbooks is good because it includes a lot of detail, and contains some great code samples that you can read and really try to understand what’s being done.
Many of them have quizzes or tests or exercises as part of the book, which is a great way to get you to learn the language. However, a textbook is not for everyone.
Textbooks can be expensive. Some are over $100, which, depending on where you are in your career, may not be an option for you. Textbooks can also be hard to read, and if you don’t like to learn by doing a lot of reading, this may be a problem. If you learn better when working with others, then textbooks may not be a good way for you.
2. Find an Online Text-Based Tutorial
Another way of learning a programming language is finding an online text-based tutorial. Many languages have web sites dedicated to learning them by using a text-based tutorial.
It’s basically an online textbook. They are usually broken up into chapters or sections. There is some material that explains a concept or how a certain function or area works. Code samples are included, which is great, because you can often just copy and paste them into your development environment to work with.
This method was how I learnt a bit of CSS back when I was studying. It’s also good for a refresher. When I’m stuck on something or need to remember the syntax for a function, these online tutorials are a great help.
3. Learn Using an Online Course
There is another way to learn a new programming language – online courses. With the increase in web availability and usage, there are more and more web-based course sites that allow you to take a course at your own pace for a pretty decent price. They are often delivered using video lectures, and have extra notes or files that go along with it.
It’s a good way to learn, as you can go along at your own pace, and are often shown examples of how things are done exactly as they happen. It’s also a good simulation of an actual classroom environment.
There are many online courses on there for all kinds of languages, so if that’s something you’re interested in, go take a look.
4. Learn a New Programming Language with Live Classes
A traditional way of learning a new programming language is to find and attend some live classes. These are basically a classroom setting, where there is a lecturer or tutor that teaches a class about a language. If you’ve gone to university or college, you’d be familiar with this environment.
They can be good because they have a set structure, they have a group learning environment and cover what you need to know. They are also widely available. It’s not just colleges that offer them; some other institutions offer programming language classes which you can take.
The disadvantage of these is that you need to physically attend the class. You may also need to buy textbooks. This may be a good thing for you, as it might help you learn, but it depends on your learning style.
5. Experience in Other Languages is Helpful
Something to consider when learning a new language is that any experience you have in programming languages is going to be helpful.
If you’re worried about learning a new language, you really shouldn’t be. The concepts that exist in programming are the same across most languages. If/then/else, looping, functions, data types. While the actual specifics are different for each language, the concepts are pretty similar, so once you understand those, it’s all about learning how the language fits together, the functions, and the syntax.
Choose the Method that Suits You
There are many ways for programmers to learn a new language. Once you’ve learnt one, it’s easier to learn others. Although, it may have been a while since you’ve learnt your last one. If you want to stay current in your IT career, it’s a good idea to learn new languages.
I think the best way to learn a new programming language will depend on you and your personal way of learning. Do you have a preferred method of taking in information? Do you prefer something solo, such as a textbook, or do you prefer a group environment? Do you prefer something at your own pace? Do you prefer something text-based or multimedia?
As long as you can find something you’d like to learn, have the desire to learn, then choosing a method isn’t a big deal. Go with a method you feel comfortable with and suits your learning style. If you’re not sure, pick one style and see how it goes. You can always change your mind later!