10 Ways to Teach Yourself Programming

By Phill Powell

Job analysts say in 5 to 10 years there will be more computer programming jobs in the U.S. than there are qualified people to fill them. Considering that, you’re probably thinking that you should start learning how to program.
Scratch-learn-programming
Discover the basics of Java programming with Scratch. 

Learning programming is not unlike learning any other language, like Spanish or French. You start with the basics and build from there. But where should you get started? There are many different programming languages. Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered with 10 great ways to teach yourself programming:

10. One Step at a Time
When you start learning about writing code, give yourself time to fully grasp the core principles. Move at your own speed, and take time to really absorb the material. Start with a simple project, then break the entire job down into individual steps.

9. Choose Wisely
Select a programming language. Of course, if you’re really serious, you may want to learn programming with C, but there are other languages, too, like Java, possibly the most common programming language, Python or if you prefer developing for Apple’s mobile devices, Swift for iOS. All have varying degrees of difficultly and can be applicable to different platforms.

8. Determine What You Want from Coding
Do you already see programming as a lucrative career? Then start digging in and doing your homework. Take some programming courses, since learning the best practices and proper workflow from a professional is often the best way to go.

7. Learn Online
Nothing beats professionally prepared curriculum but if you want to explore programming at your own pace, a self-guided online programming course may be just the thing you’re looking for.

6. Start Simple
There are lots of resources online and many that are free. Many of these programming resources are kid-friendly, like Scratch developed by MIT. It does a great job of teaching the basics of programming in a simple-to-understand way. Digital Media Academy uses Scratch in its Adventures in Programming camp.

5. Read & Research
Crack open one of the many programming books out there and enjoy the original self-guided method of learning. Today’s programming guides have really evolved. They’re often very engaging and entertaining and written specifically for the TL;DR generation. Scan through more than 500 free programming books on Github.

4. Become a Teacher (or Someone’s Student)
Have basic or intermediate programming skills? Start mentoring someone on programming. You’ll learn new things as you go, and your mind will focus on the subject and remember key aspects. On the other hand, if you want to get a mentor to guide you, there’s lots of help online like at Hack.pledge.

3. Modify Somebody Else’s Code
The easiest way to learn how to write code is to modify someone else’s code. In the process of reverse-engineering it, you’ll discover subtle things about the code. Learning how something works is always a good way to help improve your skills. (For example, you can modify Minecraft code to learn Java programming, since Minecraft was made using Java.)

2. Play Games/Learn Something
When the mind is having fun, it’s more relaxed and open to new information. And what’s more fun than playing games? Coding games may be a little basic, but there are other more in-depth games like the sites CodinGame and CodeCombat.

1. Attend a Coding Camp
The best and easiest way to master writing code is to be shown how to do it by someone who writes code for a living. At DMA tech camps, instructors with programming knowledge and industry experience guide kids (ages 6-12) and teens (12-17) who want to learn how to write code. At DMA, students discover how easy and fun it is to pick up programming skills.