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February 19, 2020 at 8:35 pm #86216Participant@idowu
“Learning to code is very easy” – I wish that was true. Folks, the fact is programming is difficult even when you get a tutor. Not to discourage you, I’m only coming out plain. Imagine how hard it’ll be when you now decide to ride the ocean without a sailor. You get easily worked up about navigations. This was me a few months back. I wanted to learn how to code, they’re a lot of languages out there with several applications, and I didn’t know which to pick from, I didn’t even know why I wanted to start coding, but I was passionate about it.
You’re probably reading this article because you want to become a self-taught programmer and you’re a bit confused about how to start. You could’ve even started and got stuck. I decided to put up tips that helped me. I believe they might be of help to you too, but they’re neither definitive nor conventional.
If anything will be valuable to your journey, it’s passion. Once you realize what you want, go straight out for it. I wouldn’t know why you want to learn how to code. But you just have to be passionate and deliberate.
One good thing about coding is you don’t need to be some college or university graduate. Programming is a technical skill. It’s just like building a house. As for me, I had neither mathematics nor computer science background. I’m a biological science graduate. You might be tempted to call it lack of focus. But to me, it wasn’t. I just wanted to up-skill. I could’ve been discouraged. But I kept pressing until I found what I wanted.
Set a goal
Coding is not static. It has a lot of applications, ranging from software development, web development, games, and artificial intelligence to a lot more. The most difficult question I had to answer was “what I wanted to code for”. This is when you need to set a goal and get a clearer picture of what you want.
Although, along the line, things can get confusing. Setting a learning goal gives you a reason to keep doing what you’re doing. It reminds you each time you fall off that you have a direction to fall back to. On this note, you can now research what fascinates you among the different applications of coding.
One of the greatest motivation you can give yourself is realizing that you’re going on a tough quest. I had to take a break at some point because I stopped finding things interesting. I would hit dead ends and I would be like “hey, maybe this is not for me”. I didn’t know why I kept pushing, but I knew something was in it for me.
Understand the basic concepts
Rocky just finished one week HTML class on Udemy and he had read up some stuff in W3 Schools. He thought “oh, I should learn that Angular JS that was mentioned by that instructor on Udemy ”.
You can be tempted like Rocky. Yours might be Python. But you find the basics somehow boring and unchallenging that you just want to start building apps with Django and start implementing machine learning algorithms already. Calm down, things don’t work that way. Start with the basic syntaxes. Learn stuff like variables, functions, logical statements and loops to state a few.
An excerpt from the bible says, should the foundation be faulty, what can a righteous do?
Importance of knowing the basics is when you’re debugging. Fixing bugs will be so hard if you fail to learn the first principle. Once you know the basics, it becomes easier for you to locate and fix the mess in your codes.
Learn by doing
I can recommend several books and coding websites. You can listen to audios, watch videos and read the whole books in the world about coding. If you don’t practice along, you’re likely not going far.
Imagine what happened to those theories you learned back in school. Although they can be useful, however, you would agree with me, theories are too abstract for the real world. They can guide you but can limit the way you apply your critical thinking abilities too. They keep you in a kind of convention and may prevent you from going out of routines.
I have lots of respect for those who started programming earlier. I could imagine how hard it was for them to come up with the breakthrough we now enjoy in programming. As hard as self-taught programming can be now, it can’t be compared to how difficult it was a few decades ago.
We now have a larger web-based community ready to solve various problems. The internet is full of several free resources at our disposal – such that we hardly need to pay before we learn. I started with udemy. Although I couldn’t afford the certificate, I didn’t care. I just wanted the skill. Luckily, most of the online resources like coursera and edx will offer to teach you for free, while you only pay to get the certificate – an opportunity you should take advantage of.
Don’t be in a hurry to get the certificate, earn the skills. That’s what you’ll be selling.
Apart from browsing known resources, you should also make good use of YouTube. You can subscribe to coding channels you feel will be of help to you.
Be consistent and keep learning
Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come – Dwayne Johnson.
Whatever you do consistently becomes part of you. Set a learning pace – yours can be 10 hours per week, 2 hours per day or it could even be 5 hours per day. No matter what you do, be consistent. Make sure every moment counts. Although sometimes you might need to break the routine, I did this sometimes, but I still maintained the flow.
Consistency doesn’t have to be strictly applied only to the learning phase. Besides, learning as far as programming is concerned is continuous. In essence, being persistent would require that you keep learning, even when you’ve advanced from the basics.
Share what you’ve learned
Putting up stuff you’ve learned will not only make them stick with you. It adds to your portfolio one way or the other. You can create blog posts or make videos and push them out on your YouTube channel.
Explaining what you’ve learned will foster a better understanding. An advantage of this is you get to receive feedback from your audience – which is an awesome way to learn and measure the learning rate. So go ahead, push it all out and don’t keep it to yourself.
Embark on projects – but Keep things simple
The most challenging and perhaps the sweetest part of your journey as a self-taught programmer is when you start building projects. This is when you get to implement what you’ve learned and how they work in the real world.
Another salient issue is what type of project to select. Doing something big doesn’t look like a bad idea. But you’ll be doing yourself a lot of good by engaging in something really simple. Making something basic first off will allow for improvement in it in the future. You don’t have to be too hard on yourself, it’s not like you won’t get bigger projects to work on.
Don’t be intimidated by what you see
Intimidation kills a dream. It makes you feel like you’re slowing down. It forces you to conclude that you’re not up to the task. In the coding world, you can get easily intimidated with most of the things you see out there. I don’t know how you’d feel about this, but you can just turn that intimidation into motivation. You should feel challenged. Try to do something better than what you see. Not get intimidated.
Learn to use search engines
Learning to code on your own can be daunting since you probably don’t have a fixed curriculum. While embarking on projects, you might get caught up with certain tasks. Don’t be deceived, nobody knows it all. Learn to use the search engine to get solutions. Join communities of developers on the web. Make your challenges known and you’ll be out of the problem in no time.
You can browse stuff up and get the solutions, but when you apply them, it doesn’t work for you – this is where knowing the basics will help you. You would have learned the meaning of each of the codes and debugging wouldn’t be an issue. As you move along, you would hardly need to browse stuff anymore.
Some suggested programming languages for starters
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