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How do you learn programming?

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Quick Answer

Learning how to program involves choosing a programming language, studying books and other resources and putting the acquired knowledge into practice. Beginners must identify their goals in programming and the platform they are using to identify which language they should learn first.

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Full Answer

Programming languages that are widely used as of 2014 include C, Java, Python and JavaScript. C is a low-level programming language that teaches how to interface with hardware, efficiently manage memory and debug programs. Java familiarizes programmers with object-oriented programming. Python is more lenient to syntax and one of the easiest to learn.

A wide range of resources are available for every programming language. Books, documentation and code examples help with self-learning. Many online resources, such as e-books, interactive tutorials and videos, are also available for free. Hiring a mentor, attending lectures and other forms of guided learning can also provide further insight on how to write computer programs. Other ways to master programming include developing functional mobile apps and video games, creating browser extensions and participating in coding competitions.

Any skills that are acquired from learning a programming language are helpful in learning other languages. Many languages have similar code structure and syntax despite their differences in application. Regardless of which language is chosen, the acquired programming skills are valuable when applying for a high-paying job in tech companies.

Top universities also offer courses, including Stanford University's Udacity, which offers free college courses that include Introduction to Computer Science. MIT provides a similar service with MIT Open Courseware, which includes online exams, multimedia content, textbooks, projects and examples for free.

Many computer companies offer programming courses, such as Google's Code University, which covers advanced topics such as distributed systems and web security. Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, offers the Mozilla Developer Network, which teaches HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

A number of smaller websites and organizations can teach programming, and these include CoderDojo, Codeacademy, and Codeschool. Some of these programs are geared toward certain audiences, including girls or specifically African-American girls. Beyond that, a number of available books can serve as an introduction to programming or an opportunity for experienced programmers to learn more.

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