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10 Tips To Learn Python

10 Tips to Learn Python
Python is one of the most widespread and versatile programming languages out there. It is also one of the most popular among beginners, being the arguably most widely taught language in schools across the world. If you’re interested in programming or coding, you might be thinking about trying to learn Python, and I would say that that’s a great idea!

However, learning Python isn’t all fun and games. For a start, just finding the best way to learn Python online is difficult in itself. There are literally thousands of different courses and tutorials out there, all claiming to be the best. With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 tips to learn Python.

I will start with a few tips to help you find the best way to learn. Then I’ll move onto a few things that you can do to help retain the things that you’re learning, followed by some ways to make learning Python basics easier than ever.

If you’re interested in discovering how to learn Python fast and efficiently, this guide is for you! 

1. Think About Why You Want To Learn Python

When it comes to figuring out the best way to learn Python for your needs, the first thing you should do is sit down and think about exactly why you want to learn it. Doing this can help you identify exactly what you hope to get out of programming, what the best way to start learning is, and what other skills you’re going to need to reach your goals. Think about the following:

Why Do You Want To Learn How To Code With Python?

When it comes to learning a skill like Python, it’s a good idea to have an end goal before you start. Identifying the skill level you hope to get to and what you hope to use your new Python skills for can help you choose the right courses. It can also help you choose what other skills you need to learn to be successful – Python on its own has limited capabilities.

Do You Plan On Using Python To Change Careers?

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If you plan on using your new found Python for beginners to start a new career, then you need to be aware of any other skills you need. For example, if you want to build back-end web applications with Python, you will need to learn other web-development skills and frameworks.

How Much Time Do You Have To Commit To Learning To Code With Python?

It’s important not to try and take on more than you can handle. Sure, you could enroll in an intensive Python basics course, but you need to make sure that you’ve actually got the time to commit to it. If the amount of time you can afford to spend discovering Python is limited, then a self-paced online course could be your best option. With this in mind, it’s time to have a look at a few different Python courses.

2. Try An Interactive Course

Interactive learning is the latest big thing when it comes to the best way to learn Python. In fact, a lot of people would argue that you’re wasting your time trying to learn via any other method. While I won’t go that far, I do love the unique features that interactive courses bring to online learning. A few of these features include:

  • Interactive coding courses give you the chance to write code directly in your browser according to clearly defined instructions.
  • When you’re working through an interactive course you will receive constant feedback about your code and how well it’s written.
  • Interactive courses usually start simple, but quickly work through to more advanced concepts, all the while building your knowledge in a logical, streamlined manner.
I’m sure you can see why interactive online courses are one of my favorite answers to the question of how to learn Python.

If you’re interested in discovering Python basics through an interactive course, then check out the BitDegree foundation’s Interactive Python Tutorial. This course teaches the core concepts and basics of the Python language that you need to get started. It also looks at more advanced things like functions and loops, all the while allowing you to practice what you’re learning right there in your browser. I know, it sounds great!

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3. Get Familiar With Reference Guides

No matter how good you get at writing Python code, there will always be concepts and syntax that give you trouble. When you run into trouble and aren’t quite sure how to do something, you need to be able to look up the necessary information.

In my experience, being familiar with a high-quality language reference guide will allow you to look things up quickly and efficiently. While there is a range of different Python reference guides out there, I’ve found the official Python language documentation to be the most comprehensive and most useful. When you run into a problem or aren’t completely sure about your syntax, simply head over to the Python language reference to find answers.

4. Code As Often As Possible

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People throughout the world are looking for answers to questions like “What is the best way to learn Python?” and “How to learn Python?” without realizing that sometimes the best way to do things is to keep it simple. When it comes to learning how to code with Python, I think that practice is the key to success.

If possible, you should practice writing code every single day. Even if you only have a few minutes before bed, everything counts. Below are a few examples of things you can do to practice and reinforce your Python knowledge:

  • Reading over your notes for a few minutes while you’re on the train or bus. Didn’t know you had to take notes? I’ll get to that in a minute!
  • Working through a few sections of your online course. If you find yourself with time to spare while you’re commuting or otherwise waiting for something, have a look at the Learn Python From Scratch Video Course. The short, information-packed video lectures that this course is made up of are perfect for learning on the go!
  • Looking over a block of code written by someone else and working out what each line does. More on this later as well. 
There are a few things that you should remember when you’re practicing your Python. Don’t rush things, otherwise, you will miss important concepts and information. Follow the order of your course, and above all, remember that:

“Perfect practice makes perfect”

That’s right, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice does. This means that you need to make sure that you’re always following coding best practices (commenting out your code, using the correct syntax, etc…), otherwise, you will probably end up picking up bad habits that could harm your future coding endeavors.

5. Take Notes!

Note taking is one of the keys to learning any programming language, including Python. If you’re serious about starting to learn Python online, then you need to get serious about taking notes as you work through your course!

Taking notes will force you to slow down and understand every concept and piece of syntax. It will help make sure that you don’t miss important information, and it will also help reinforce important concepts as you learn them. Having high-quality Python for beginners notes will also give you a valuable resource that you can go back over when you’re stuck on something in the future.

What are you waiting for? Grab a notebook and a few different colored pens and start taking notes as you learn! 

6. Connect With Other Learners

If you’re serious about learning Python for beginners and building a career as a programmer, then you need to start networking with other programmers and people learning Python. There are two main ways to do this – online through forums and chat boards and physically through meetup groups.

Online Networking

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Online networking through chat boards and programming forums is a great way to fast track your progress. For example, being part of an online community will allow you to get answers to any questions you might have quickly and easily. In the same way, answering other people’s questions is a great way to reinforce your knowledge. The Stack Overflow Python forum is my favorite.

Physical Meetups

Trying to learn Python online can be boring, lonely, and even depressing at times. Unless you make an effort to get out and meet people, you might never have any real physical contact with other programmers. One of the best ways to meet like-minded programmers is by joining a group on Meetup.com – simply search for programming or Python related groups in your area!

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7. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Things can get a bit daunting as a young programmer trying to learn how to use Python efficiently and effectively. However, you should never be afraid to ask questions – no matter how stupid or obvious they seem. In fact, I’ve found that asking (and answering) questions are one of the best ways to learn!

One of the hardest things can be finding someone who can answer your questions. Start with a forum – like the Stack Overflow forum described above. If you can’t find someone willing to help you there, then it could be a good idea to find a paid coding mentor.

There is a whole range of different websites out there designed to connect you with a coding mentor. Some offer regular mentoring, while others are useful for one-off questions about difficult concepts, code debugging, or anything else you’re having trouble with. A quick Google search should turn up plenty of options.

8. Help Someone Else

While asking questions and using a coding mentor can be a great way to discover new concepts and how they’re used, helping someone else is one of the best ways to reinforce your existing knowledge. Once you’ve got a solid understanding of Python programming, you should consider signing up as a coding mentor – who knows, you might eventually learn enough to become a paid mentor!

Until then, stick with helping people online. Browse through coding forums from time to time, and answer any questions that you’re able to. Participate in discussions, and don’t be afraid to do some research if you come across a question that you can’t answer with certainty.

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Remember, your Python language reference guide is your best friend! 

9. Start Writing Your Own Programs

Creating your own programs is another great way to practice your Python programming skills. Although a lot of beginners don’t realize it, you actually don’t need a whole lot of experience to start writing your own programs. In fact, a simple understanding of basic syntax and Python language features is more than enough to create simple, functional blocks of code.

One of the hardest things about practicing by writing your own programs is coming up with ideas for what to create. However, you need to remember that it doesn’t actually matter if your program is useful or not – as long as it helps you practice your Python skills! Consider the following ideas to help you practice writing Python code:

  • Build an alarm clock program that will give a message (or play a sound) at a defined time.
  • Create your own basic calculator app.
  • Develop a simple script to search for things on a website.
  • Make a tic-tac-toe style game.
These are just a few ideas – really, the only limits to what you can build with Python come from your imagination!

Remember, the important thing when you’re practicing isn’t what sort of program you create, but how you do it. 

10. Hack Someone Else’s Code

Note that by ‘hack someone else’s code’ I don’t mean you should literally hack someone. What I mean is that you should take a block of code or a code file written by someone else and ‘unpack’ it. Work through the code file and make sure that you understand what every line is designed to do. Write comments to help you understand things if you need to, and make sure that you make improvements where you can!

One of the best places to find code files to work through is GitHub. Simply search for Python files, choose something that looks interesting, and downloads it to your computer. Open it in a code or text editor – I would recommend the Atom code editor if you don’t already have one – and start working through it!

Remember to upload the code again if you manage to make improvements to it that could benefit other people. 

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Conclusion

In this article, I’ve introduced you to some of my top tips to help you learn Python. If you’re serious about becoming a programmer or about adding a coding aspect to your current job, then learning Python is a great place to start. Look for a high-quality online course, and start discovering how to code with Python – I would recommend learning the basics with an interactive course before you move onto more difficult concepts.

Make sure that you don’t rush the learning process, otherwise, you might miss out on important information. Take notes on everything – no matter how simple it seems to start with – and make sure that you revise regularly. Try and practice writing code as often as possible, and make sure that you get familiar with your Python reference guide.

Connect with your fellow learners and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you need to. Helping other people when they have problems can be a great revision, and working through someone else’s code is a great way to learn new things. Above all, make sure that you always follow Python best practices and don’t get lazy – if you do you could run into all sorts of problems in the future.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and learn Python!

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