If you work with computers or have thought about trying to become a programmer or a developer, you may have asked yourself the question: What programming language should I learn?
Unfortunately, the question of what programming language to learn is one of the hardest questions to answer as a programmer.
There is no hard and fast answer because the best programming languages to learn will be different for every person according to several personal factors - but we’ll look at that in more depth later.
However, learning a language like HTML won’t help you if you want to work with something like iOS app development, so it is important to keep an open mind when choosing the best coding language to learn.
Despite the introduction of new languages almost every year, there are a few old - and even a couple of new - languages that dominate the programming landscape.
Languages such as Java and PHP have remained relatively popular over the past decade or so, while Python has taken off to become the most common programming language to learn for beginners - as shown in the image below.
However, overall search popularity for the term ‘learn programming’ has been decreasing over the last four or five years. Are people becoming less interested in learning programming, or is it a simple case of there being more available information about what languages are out there?
We would have to lean towards the second option - platforms like Facebook and YouTube make programming information that much more accessible without having to search for it.
But enough about that, let’s get onto the personal factors that you need to consider when asking yourself “What programming language should I learn?”.
Table of Contents
- 1. What Factors Should Influence the Language You Learn?
- 1.1. Your Programming Experience
- 1.2. Your Career Path & What Sort of Work You Want to Do
- 1.3. The Difficulty Of Each Language
- 1.4. The Resources Available For The Language
- 1.5. The Versatility Of The Language
- 2. What Types Of Programming Languages Are There?
- 2.1. Statically Typed Languages:
- 2.2. Dynamic Languages:
- 2.3. Other:
- 3. Choosing Which Programming Language To Learn
- 3.2. Java
- 3.3. PHP
- 3.4. Python
- 3.5. Solidity
- 3.6. SQL
- 4. So, What Programming Language Should I Learn?
What Factors Should Influence the Language You Learn?
There are many different things that will influence you when it comes to deciding which programming language to learn. Many of these are personal, but some are also related to your location, your future job prospects, and other things.
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Consider the following five points next time you ask yourself the question “What programming language should I learn?”.
Your Programming Experience
The first, and probably one of the most important things to take into account next time you are thinking “What programming language should I learn?” is your programming experience. Some of the best programming languages to learn are quite difficult and aren’t suited to beginners.
However, there are plenty of beginner-friendly resources out there for the most popular languages like Java and Python, so don’t let a lack of experience scare you away.
Simply realize that, if you haven’t programmed or learned a programming language before, it will be more difficult and will take you longer to get started.
Your Career Path & What Sort of Work You Want to Do
You can’t just go out there and choose one of the common programming languages to learn at random. You do need to have a reason for choosing, and this will usually be related to your career, the type of work you currently do, and the type of work you hope to do in the future.
First, think about the work you are doing at the moment. It is quite likely that you are thinking about the best programming languages to learn because you want to improve your job prospects. Try and choose something relevant to and compatible with your experience if possible.
If you are thinking about moving into a new field, then choose the language which will help you do this. For example, if you currently work as a back-end web developer, but want to move into blockchain programming, you should think about learning Solidity.
The Difficulty Of Each Language
It is also extremely important to make sure that you consider language difficulty next time you ask yourself “What programming language should I learn?”.
If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to learning a new language, or are an inexperienced language learner, then you should consider choosing a course with a low difficulty level. Languages like Python, PHP, or even C# are usually quite simple for people who are just starting.
However, if you are an experienced programmer who already knows at least one language, then don’t let difficult languages scare you off. Consider dipping your toes into a more difficult language - something like C++ - especially if you enjoy a challenge.
The Resources Available For The Language
This point probably isn’t as relevant as it would have been five years ago, but it is still worth considering. If you are a new learner, the best programming language to learn first is going to be a popular one in which you can find support and a lot of resources.
The Versatility Of The Language
It is important to consider the uses and versatility of a language before you begin learning it. Some languages have very specialized uses. However, others are a lot more versatile and can be used for a wide range of things.
It all boils down to what you are planning to use your programming language for. For example, if you want to become a blockchain developer, Solidity is going to be the easy choice, even if it isn’t very versatile.
However, if you want to work in web development and programming, choose something like PHP or Python.
What Types Of Programming Languages Are There?
Before you even ask the question:
“What Programming Language Should I Learn?”
You need to understand a few things about programming. If you are an experienced developer with one or more languages under your belt, you can probably skip this section and move straight on to the next one.
Most major programming languages can be defined according to their usage and design. The two most popular types of languages are statically typed languages and dynamic languages. These will be explored further below:
Statically Typed Languages:
Statically typed languages are more ‘advanced’ than dynamic languages in many people’s eyes. Things built with static languages are usually stable, scalable, and easy to maintain.
They are usually very good at catching errors, but it takes a lot more programming and time commitment to build a good app or website back-end with a statically typed language.
Things like high-level mobile apps and top website back-ends are usually built on a statically typed language. General-purpose languages like Java and C are static languages, as are Swift, C++, and C#.
The alternative to statically typed languages is dynamic programming languages, which are usually seen as quite flexible and easy to learn. They make it easy to create basic apps or programs without a whole lot of time commitment, and they are often fun as well!
Most dynamic programming languages are high-level languages - which means that they are simpler to learn. If you choose dynamic programming languages to learn, you will spend less time fine-tuning the details of your code, and a lot more time discovering and practicing new concepts.
Dynamic languages are popular among beginners, as they usually allow you to build things after just a few hours, and results come quickly.
Structure Query Language - which you might know as SQL - doesn’t fit under either of the above labels.
It is quite a common language that is used to communicate with databases and to manage data. It is often used in website analytics, especially by major eCommerce retailers like Amazon and eBay. But more on that below.
Choosing Which Programming Language To Learn
There can be an overwhelming amount of information to wade through when you are trying to find the answer to the question “What programming language should I learn?”, especially if you are an inexperienced programmer.
Sometimes it can seem like there are hundreds of different websites out there, each telling you different things and recommending different languages. Really, how are you supposed to decide on the best coding language to learn for your needs?
With this in mind, we have put together a list of the most common programming languages, complete with their uses, their difficulty, and when you should think about learning them.
Don’t let the question “What programming language should I learn?” cause you nightmares. Read the following and do some external research if necessary. Take a look at the wide range of programming and web development courses, and find one which looks both interesting and useful.
It is super versatile as it is compatible with all browsers, can be used for anything from web app development to mobile game creation, and is compatible with a range of other languages.
This can cause frustration among beginner programmers, so make sure that you keep this in mind when deciding which programming language to learn.
Java is arguably the most common programming language in the world. It is a statically typed language that is generally used for things like the Android app, game, and desktop app development. It is also popular for back-end web development, especially among larger companies.
The versatility that Java offers makes it great for people who are looking for the best programming language to learn first. However, you need to realize that you will have to put a lot of time and effort into your studies if you do decide to learn Java, as it will take a while to pick up and get the hang of it.
When you ask yourself “Which programming language should I learn?”, you need to think about what sort of things you are planning on using your new language for.
If you are hoping to get into some sort of Android or web development, then Java is a good choice. However, it isn’t that useful for iOS or blockchain developers, and it probably isn’t a good first language.
Java seems to have a very bright future. It is relatively stable and easy to scale. It remains the most popular programming language in the world due to its use in Android development, and this alone should be enough of a reason to learn it.
PHP is one of the more popular server-side scripting languages. Although it isn’t as widespread as Java or Python, PHP remains one of the leading languages for website development.
Some of the most popular websites in the world - including Wikipedia, WordPress, and Facebook - were built using PHP, showing just how useful it is. So, maybe that's your answer to the question of "what programming language should I learn first"?
A lot of people will argue that PHP is the best coding language to learn first. It is very beginner-friendly and easy to pick up. This can be put down to the fact that the PHP code is very logical, allowing you to conceptualize what it will do before it is even run.
Although some websites are moving away from PHP, it remains the most popular language on the internet. Around 80% of websites still use PHP, suggesting that there will be ample work for developers for years to come. That should be enough reasoning for you to carefully consider learning this particular language!
Python is perhaps the most popular programming language for beginners. It is often taught in schools because it is relatively simple and easy to learn. In the past, Python has been used to build desktop apps, to create web apps, and for scientific data analysis.
Python is the most popular programming language among scientific communities around the world. It is used to write various computing, data analysis, and bioinformatics programs, and a large percentage of researchers have at least some Python skills.
As well as being a great first language to learn, Python is also quite useful if you work in a scientific field. Even if you don’t do direct research or data analysis yourself, having Python skills will make you a lot more employable.
This may lead to better job opportunities or promotions in the future - something that no one would say no to!
If you would like to learn Python then have a look at the Learn Python Basics course. Alternatively, you could take a much more in-depth look at the language and its uses for data science through the Learn to Make Python Data Structures course.
If you have recently asked yourself the question “What programming language should I learn?”, you should also ask yourself “What do I hope to get out of my programming language?”. In most cases, the answer to this will help you choose a language.
If you answered with something like “I want to become a blockchain developer”, then you should think about learning Solidity. Solidity is a new programming language that allows people to write and implement smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
Although not a mainstream language it is far from it - the demand for decent Solidity developers is increasing fast as cryptocurrencies grow.
Although it is probably best to learn another language first, it is entirely possible for beginners to learn Solidity using courses like “Space Doggos - Interactive Learning Solidity Course For Beginners” or “Learning Solidity: The Ultimate Solidity Course To Kickstart Your Career”.
- Easy to use with a learn-by-doing approach
- Offers quality content
- Gamified in-browser coding experience
- Free certificates of completion
- Focused on data science skills
- Flexible learning timetable
SQL - or Structured Query Language - is somewhat different from the rest of the programming languages we have covered. It can’t be used to build apps or websites at all. Instead, it is used to access and analyze data from databases. It is a query language, and it isn’t very versatile at all.
However, SQL is used throughout the world. Pretty much every website with large databases of customer or product data uses it in some way, shape, or form, which means that there is always going to be a high demand for SQL developers.
If you think that data analysis programming is a field that you would like to get into, then there is only one answer to the question “What programming language should I learn?”. It’s simple - learn SQL!
So, What Programming Language Should I Learn?
We understand that it can be pretty hard to answer questions like “What programming language should I learn?” and “How can I become a programmer?”.
The amount of information out there can become extremely overwhelming at times, which results in a lot of aspiring young programmers giving up before they have even started.
In the end, it is important to realize that there is no real “Best programming language to learn”. Everything is relative, and the best language for you won’t necessarily be the best language for someone else.
Alternatively, if you want to specialize and learn Blockchain development, have a look at Solidity.
Regardless of which language you choose, remember this - programming skills are transferable. Once you have learned one language, you will be much better equipped to learn another.
Do your research, speak to other programmers, and most importantly, choose a good platform on which you're going to learn, as poor learning materials result in lacking knowledge.