A senior Java developer and Java tutor at Learning Tree International programming courses.
Let’s face it: people are impatient by nature and most likely want things to happen faster in their lives. I would apply the same to code learners. Students, when starting to learn programming, first wonder how to speed up the training and make a career as a programmer as soon as possible.
I am not the one who convinces everyone that learning to program is a lightning-fast journey — the other thing is that it is not as difficult as people think. All boils down to interest, passion, regular practice, and patience, of course. I also often recommend different online and offline resources to my students to make their learning process easier, more effective, and faster. And in this post, I will share a few tips with you.
These tips are not magic pills and probably won’t make you a professional developer in a week, but they will definitely make your life easier, while the learning process won’t be that intimidating, vague, and boring. Besides, following all of them together may speed up training.
So, without any further delay, let’s get to them.
No matter how simple a new subject is, it still requires you to consolidate your knowledge. Starting to play with code soon after you’ve completed the next section helps you learn the given concepts faster and feel confident when writing your first line of code. Fortunately, the web is full of platforms, where you can start practicing shortly.
Let’s consider them in detail.
Registering to CodeGym gives you access to 1200 hands-on tasks of different complexity. They will force you to write tons of code, which is crucial for gaining the experience needed to land a job. Practice is proved to be the best way to learn programming.
This Core Java course is developed using the latest techniques, including visualization, storytelling, and gamification so that you stay motivated to keep learning to code.
Codecademy platform aims to reform the education system and build the one the world deserves. The company offers tons of free material you can choose from depending on the reason why you want to learn to program. After taking a quiz, the specialists will point you in the right direction. No matter if you are a beginner or experienced developer, the platform will meet any of your expectations and provide many practical tasks, such as calculator creation or tailor-made quizzes completion to test your knowledge.
If you can boast a little more programming experience, Codewars is good to go to hone your skills. The platform allows achieving mastery through real code challenges better known as kata. The students earn ranks and honor for completing kata, programming exercises, create their own challenges, and find quality solutions. That is why, due to a gamified learning process, they learn to code without getting bored or unmotivated.
Programming fundamentals are what students should start their journey to software engineering with. The better idea of basic principles they get, the easier it is to move to the next, more advanced topics, such as I/O streams or Concurrency. However, from my experience, students who start learning to code happen to underestimate the importance of fundamentals. They often jump from topic to topic, not really understanding, but rather getting confused.
So, before you skip the basic principles of programming, think if you are ready to start all over again and return to fundamentals under tight time constraints.
Many of you may say that this practice has long been out of fashion. I can hardly agree because hand-written code remains one of the best exercises for beginners.
Not only does coding by hand sharpen proficiency, but it also lets you get a job. When passing exams at college or technical interviews, you often have to hand write the code to prove your skills. Coding by hand also gives a better idea of how well and fast you learn the structure and syntax. In modern times, IDE “adds” a lot so that the specialists don’t often notice they’ve missed something in the learning process.
The so-called “pencil code” is something like a stress test that helps to reveal gaps in knowledge and close them.
So, what I recommend is to get used to this old-fashioned practice at the early stage.
We, programmers, are all in the same boat, and everyone has started from something. Other than that, the community of developers is known for its friendliness, support, and desire to share knowledge. So, if you face the problem while learning to code, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no bug that cannot be easily eliminated, especially by other specialists with a fresh perspective or a new interpretation of the topic.
To save you the hassle of surfing the Internet seeking help, I’ve put together a few platforms you can rely on. Here’s a brief list of them.
Reddit channels along with subreddits, such as:
Slack channels, including:
StackOverflow, the leading forum platform, where you can get your theoretical questions answered, seek advice, or receive feedback on your code.
SitePoint, another community established to help developers get a clear understanding of the language of their choice. It also covers topics on business, marketing, and other related fields.
Hacker News, the forum that keeps hackers updated on the latest news in the industry, answers common questions among them, and shares working experience.
Reading a sample code is a useful exercise, yet it may not work effectively unless you try to write it yourself or at least run. Tinkering with the code gives you a clear understanding of how it works and makes the learning process much easier. If I were you, I would start with reading Java libraries and try something to rewrite, e.g., go to ArrayList class and make efforts to recreate it.
No matter if you are an absolute beginner or skilled specialist, you may sometimes experience problems when writing the code. But, puzzling over the solution to that problem for hours doesn’t always guarantee you’ll discover it and understand why code doesn’t work. So, I find it reasonable to leave it and get back later if all your previous attempts, surfing Google, or asking for help have not brought the desired result.
In short, taking a break when debugging and trying the other tasks will let you turn back to the problematic task with restored sanity and fresh perspective, and finally find the solution.
The web is full of content. Really. And if the material you are currently trying to digest doesn’t make sense for you, leave and go look for another resource that would make the concept clear enough to keep up the training. Don’t be afraid to try different materials, but avoid collecting them.
The platforms I would recommend include:
Treehouse knows well how to learn programming and offers a bunch of video guides on HTML, Ruby on Rails, PHP, and other technologies. The access to interactive quizzes, code challenges, learning tracks, and other additional content make it an ideal resource to put on a list.
Code College allows you to subscribe and get access to all possible code-related courses or try free challenges before subscribing. The website is ideal for both novice and expert developers. No matter, if you plan to hand-code your first webpage or build a custom WP site, Code College will get you covered.
Pluralsight lets students skill staying at home. The platform provides lots of interactive challenges and some free courses, which makes it a good option for those being on a tight budget.
Lynda.com covers multiple topics, including business, photography, and design along with web and software development. Other than that, the website offers to train the whole team offering subscriptions for business, school, or government organizations.
With no doubts, the tips I’ve covered in this post are made up to speed up the learning process. But, what even more important is your readiness to fail and continue. While remaining sure what you are doing and why you need to learn the programming language, you can stay patient with your progress and allow some time to become an experienced specialist. Because any new skill requires hard work and dedication.
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