How to Learn Programming for Beginners

How to Learn Programming for Beginners

Programming is a way to communicate with computers, hence the term "programming language". And as with any language, it takes time and effort to learn how to program.

So you might be asking yourself, "What is the right way to learn programming?"

That's what this guide is about. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know on how you can learn to code properly and effectively.

Follow the roadmap we've outlined below, and you'll be well on your way to being a good programmer.

Coding Roadmap for Beginners: Learn to Code in 7 Steps

Here are 7 tried and tested steps to learn to code for absolute beginners:

  • Step 1: Define Your Goal
  • Step 2: Choose a Programming Language
  • Step 3: Find Coding Resources
  • Step 4: Master the Fundamentals
  • Step 5: Tutorial Hell - Avoid This Trap!
  • Step 6: Build Projects
  • Step 7: Make Google Your Friend

Let's go through these steps one by one.

Step 1: Define Your Goal

Before actually diving into the coding part, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why should I learn to code?
  • Is coding for me?
  • What do I want to ultimately achieve through coding?

Why it's important to answer these questions?

Learning to code requires a lot of effort and time. If you don't have a reason for learning, then there is a good chance you might lose your focus as well as motivation.

So, having a clear goal helps you push yourself to learn and practice more.

With that being said, your answers to these questions don't need to be clear and specific. But you should at least have a rough idea of where you want to end up after a few months of coding.

Giving yourself a couple of months to code will help you decide whether coding is for you or not.

Key Takeaway: Programming requires a lot of hard work and time. If you don't have a reason to learn, there won't be a reason for you to continue as well.

Step 2: Choose a Programming Language

If you are learning to code for the first time, we suggest you choose a language that's easier to learn. At Programiz, we recommend Python as your first language.

But why?

To answer this question, let's write a simple program in Python, and another language named Java.

Python code

print(5 + 10)
Python code to display the sum of two numbers

Java code

class Main {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println(5 + 10);

Basically, both the programs are performing the same task: adding two numbers and displaying the result on the screen.

Even if you haven't programmed before, you can easily guess what the Python code is doing. It's because:

  • Python is far closer to common English compared to Java.
  • The simpler syntax of Python helps us to focus on the logic of the program rather than on the syntax itself.

Tip: Once your master one programming language, it's much easier to switch to another language. This is because most of the core concepts are common to all programming languages.

After you've learned Python, you can then choose to specialize in other languages depending on your interest. Here is a list of languages and the areas where they are used:

  • Java - Desktop and Mobile Apps
  • Python - Data Science, AI, Mobile and Web Apps, etc.
  • Swift - Apps for Apple Devices
  • C - Operating Systems, Compilers, Databases, etc.
  • C++ - Operating Systems, Video Games, Web Browsers, etc.
  • JavaScript - Web development
  • HTML and CSS - Web design

To learn more, visit How to choose the right programming language?

Key Takeaway: Since Python code is logic-driven and easy to understand, we recommend you learn it as your first programming language. That way, you will grasp core programming concepts more easily. Once you've done that, learning other languages will be a piece of cake.

Step 3: Find Coding Resources

People have different preferences when it comes to learning. Some might like videos, whereas others might like reading books.

However, we recommend that you take interactive courses to learn to code. Let's see why.

Interactive Courses

As the name suggests, these courses supplement their programming lessons with various interactive features that will help you learn better.

Most interactive courses provide quizzes, challenges, and projects that put your knowledge and skills to the test. In addition, many of them provide certifications to help you stay motivated.

As a beginner, you will need to write a lot of code and practice a lot of problems. You simply cannot learn programming by reading or watching tutorials passively; what you need is active learning.

The quizzes, challenges, and projects provided by interactive courses are meant to do just that. They keep you under pressure to solve fun and interesting programming problems. This is essential for sustaining your motivation.

After all, passively consuming tutorials will become a boring and tedious task pretty quickly. And nothing kills motivation more quickly than boredom.

If you don't know where to begin, then you can check out our Interactive Python Course to start your programming journey.

You can also visit sites such as Codecademy, Freecodecamp, Pluralsight, Coursera, edX, etc. These sites also provide excellent interactive courses in various programming disciplines.

Video Tutorials

If you want to explore other learning alternatives, then perhaps tutorial videos can help you. They are excellent for understanding complex programming concepts.

You can find some really great video tutorials on YouTube. In the initial stages, you can explore as many YouTube channels as possible.

Then you can settle on the channels and videos you think are right for you. As for ourselves, we prefer the following channels:

You can also check out our YouTube channel - Programiz - to learn to program.

Additionally, websites such as Udemy, Coursera, and edX also provide video tutorials.

However, we don't recommend beginners rely solely on tutorial videos since you need a lot of practice to learn how to code.

Instead, we highly recommend that you practice and code a lot after each video rather than spending all your time only watching them.

Tutorial Sites

In contrast to the streamlined and guided interactive content in programming sites such as Codecademy and Programiz PRO, tutorial sites provide unguided but structured info dumps.

Nevertheless, these sites are still beneficial for those who wish to learn programming (especially since most of them are free!).

Some great tutorial sites are:

You can also check out our website Programiz for quality free tutorials.

Programming Books

If online learning is not your cup of tea, you can still rely on the good traditional option: reading books! Fortunately, there are a whole lot of programming books available to feast your minds on.

Here are some books we recommend:

Blogs and Articles

Since the tech world is constantly changing, it can get intimidating to keep up with the latest news.

You can learn exciting topics and news about the latest programming trends, new versions of programming languages, and more with blogs and articles.

You also have many beginner-friendly blogs like this on the internet to help you get started with programming.

As a beginner, you can read full-length articles about the history of programming, exciting people in programming, how computers work, and more.

Key Takeaway: Out of all the different resources available on the internet, we recommend interactive learning. In addition, you can use tutorial videos and websites to expand your technical knowledge.

But no matter what resource you go for, your progress depends on practice and dedication.

Step 4: Master the Coding Fundamentals

Here's the biggest mistake most programming beginners make: "Moving too fast without understanding the fundamental concepts".

The thing with coding is that the fundamental concepts are interrelated. You won't be able to understand that topic properly if you move forward without understanding the previous topics.

Imagine this: suppose you have concepts A, B, and C that are at the very core of all programming languages.

And suppose Concept A is the first thing you should learn about programming, followed by B and C.

Here's how these concepts will be related to each other:

In programming, earlier concepts are used in later concepts.
In programming, earlier concepts are used in later concepts.

Since the concepts are interrelated, if you don't have a good understanding of Concept A, you will also have problems with Concept B and Concept C as well.

This is why it's crucial to master the fundamentals. If you skip them, you won't be able to understand anything further down the line.

Tip: Apply the Feynmann Technique

The physicist Richard Feynmann developed a technique that can allow us to learn anything. Basically, select the topic you want to learn and try to explain it to a 12-year-old.

Explaining something in simple language allows us to understand that topic better. It will also expose gaps and flaws in our knowledge, which we can rectify with further study.

The Feynmann Technique For Learning Anything
The Feynmann Technique For Learning Anything

Key Takeaway: Programming concepts are interrelated. So make your fundamentals strong. Don't move to another concept too quickly without understanding the preceding concepts.

Step 5: Tutorial Hell - Avoid This Trap!

In the previous step, we said that you need to have a strong foundation in programming fundamentals. But that doesn't mean you need to learn each and everything about those topics.

You need to devote enough time and effort to each topic, but getting stuck in a topic for too long will hamper your coding journey.

Usually, this happens when you watch too many videos or read too many tutorials without putting most of them to practice. This is what programmers call the "Tutorial Hell."

Tutorial Hell is a situation where a programmer gets stuck in a loop of consuming tutorials and videos without learning anything. Instead, all you have is the illusion of learning.

The problem becomes clear when you have to write your own code. You realize that you can't properly apply the concepts you've learned from the tutorials.

Confused and frustrated, you refer to the tutorials again. You apply the knowledge you've regained to your present code, then promptly move on to the next tutorial without sufficient practice.

A few hours or days later, you encounter a similar problem when you have to write another code. And the cycle repeats itself.

Tutorial Hell is when you read too many tutorials without learning anything
Tutorial Hell is when you read too many tutorials without learning anything

How to Escape the Tutorial Hell?

Follow the practices listed below to avoid falling into this trap (or to get out of it if you are in this situation):

  • Once you have finished a tutorial, close it and write code using the concepts in the tutorial.
  • Don't copy the code when you're practicing the problems; type it yourself!
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Correcting the mistakes in your code (also known as 'debugging') is one of the most effective ways to learn to code.
  • Once you're done, practice some extra problems related to the concept.

Use Interactive Courses!

We've mentioned this before, and we'll mention it again: interactive courses are the most appropriate means of learning. This is even more relevant when it comes to being stuck in tutorials.

The biggest reason people get stuck in tutorials is that they don't prompt you to immediately practice what you've learned. That is not the case with most interactive courses.

Take our Learn Python course, for example. We give quizzes and challenges immediately after a major lesson.

For instance, here is our lesson on printing variables in Python.

A Python lesson in Programiz PRO
A Python lesson in Programiz PRO 

This lesson is immediately followed by a quiz.

Programiz PRO gives you quizzes immediately after major lessons.
Programiz PRO gives you quizzes immediately after major lessons.

This quiz is then followed by a challenge, where you need to write code yourself according to the instructions given.

A challenge related to the Python lesson you've just learned.
A challenge related to the Python lesson you've just learned.

This way, you can immediately practice what you've just learned. As a result, you won't be stuck in a loop of continuously staring at tutorials.

Key Takeaway: Don't get stuck in a loop of watching videos and reading tutorials. Put what you've learned into practice immediately. One way to avoid it is by choosing an interactive course that will compel you to do exactly that.

Step 6: Build Projects

Once you've sufficiently grasped the fundamental concepts of coding, you can move on to building your own projects.

It is important to build projects because they are

  • perfect exercises to apply most (or all) of the concepts you've learned so far,
  • great tools to market yourself to prospective employers.

What Projects to Build as a Beginner?

As a beginner, you should keep two things in mind when deciding to build a project:

  • The project should be small and simple.
  • It should be something that you're interested in (or passionate about).

Working on large projects can be frustrating and quickly kill your motivation. Instead, you can make small games such as Tic-Tac-Toe, Rock Paper Scissors, Pong, Whack-a-mole, etc.

If you are not interested in gaming, you can also make simple applications like a management system, random number generator, calculator, to-do list, etc.

Once you have gained sufficient experience and skills, you can then move on to more complex projects.

Upload Your Projects

Once you have finished a project, you'd want to upload it on GitHub. Why?

Because recruiters normally look for proof of a programmer's skill. By looking at the projects you've uploaded, employers can reliably measure your worth as a programmer.

So if you want to get a job or an internship in the tech world, you better have some cool projects on your GitHub!

Key Takeaway: Apply your knowledge of programming by making small and simple projects. Make sure you complete the projects once you start them. Don't forget to upload your completed projects on GitHub.

Step 7: Make Google Your Friend

Googling is an important skill for programmers
Googling is an important skill for programmers

You might be shocked to know that googling is one of the most valuable skills of an experienced programmer.

There's no way we can remember all the words in English, right? Sometimes we need to search for the meanings of certain words or check whether our grammar is correct.

It is the same with programming. You will forget the syntax of a method. You will miss a semicolon. Your indentation will be all over the place.

At some point in the coding process, all of these issues are bound to occur. As a beginner, you may also need help with the logic of your code.

So be friends with Google. In fact, make Google your best friend! You can search for all kinds of errors and issues there.

How To Google Properly?

Now, you might be wondering, "If googling is such a big deal, how do I get better at it?"

Great question! Here are some tips that will help you become better at googling:

  • Keep your queries short and precise. Instead of searching for "How to use variables in Python", you can search for "Variables in Python".
  • Use the 'People also ask' section on the search result page to get the answers to any follow-up questions you might have.
  • The Quick Answer feature of Google lets you get instant results on search queries. This will save you a lot of time!
  • If you want to search for any programming term, you can put the word "define" in front of it and get the most accurate answer.
    So, if you search for "Define data type", you will get the dictionary definition of the term, along with a Wikipedia explanation on the side. Cool, right?

Aside from Google, there are many other websites where you can ask questions and get solutions from other programmers.

Quora, StackOverflow, and Reddit are some of our go-to sites for solving programming issues.

Key Takeaway: Googling isn't something to be ashamed of; it is actually a vital skill that's required to be a good programmer. Learn to google and you'll never be stuck!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I learn to Code?

Here are a few reasons why you should:

  • Programming improves your logical, analytical, and problem-solving skills.
  • Coding gives you a better understanding of how a lot of modern technology works.
  • Coding is a fun and creative activity. You can create incredible things like video games, websites, applications, and more.
  • Finally, coding is one of the highest-paid professions in the world.

2. Can a beginner learn programming without a CS background?

Yes, a beginner can learn to code without a background in Computer Science. Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually need a CS degree to be a coder. What you will need is a platform to assess your coding abilities. Online courses can help you in this regard.

3. How long does it take to learn to code?

It depends on the level of coding skills you are trying to acquire and the time you are willing to invest.

Normally, you can be proficient at a programming language in around 3 months (if you practice regularly for 3-4 hours a day).

But to be job-ready, you might need 8 months to a year of continuous coding experience.

To learn more, visit How long does it take to learn to code?

4. Is coding hard?

Coding is not a hard skill to learn. But just like any other skill, you need regular practice and dedication to get better at it. With proper guidance, you can make the process a lot easier.

To learn more, visit Is Coding Really Hard for Beginners?

5. What's the best way to learn to code?

We've already mentioned that the only way you can learn coding is by putting the concepts into practice i.e. you need to write programs continuously (and properly as well).

Interactive courses are the perfect tools for this: their quizzes, challenges, and projects are designed to make actual coding a fun as well as challenging experience.

6. Do you need mathematics to learn to code?

Not really. While you obviously need to be familiar with general arithmetic and a little bit of algebra, you don't need college-level mathematics to learn to code unless you are doing Machine Learning, AI, or competitive coding.

7. What are common beginner's mistakes?

Beginners can make tons of mistakes while learning to program. Some common mistakes include writing too little code, not using google properly, not planning the code they are writing, and giving up when they get stuck.

What's Next?

Learning how to code can at first appear to be a daunting task. But with enough practice and dedication, you can master it on a professional level.

And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to learning how to code, the roadmap we have provided in this guide will provide you with tremendous value if you are a beginner.

If you're still unsure about where to begin, why not check out our highly interactive Python course? It's free to join!

So what are you waiting for? Chase after your dream career by starting your lessons NOW!