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5 Secrets to Learning JavaScript

Learning JavaScript is tough.

The gurus make it look easy, but spend five minutes studying inheritance and the prototype chain and you’ll easily find yourself neck-deep in a steaming pile of binary… something.

Fortunately, there are a few life hacks I’ve learned over the years of learning JavaScript that have really helped my knowledge. I’m sharing them here today to help other people who may feel overwhelmed by this crazy language.

Here are my 5 secrets to learning JavaScript.

1. There’s vanilla JS…And there’s everything else.

The world of programming is literally infinite. So you’re hanging out in the kiddie pool of JavaScript variables and objects thinking, "OKAY VARIABLES AND PROTOTYPAL INHERITANCE IS FINE AND ALL BUT WHEN CAN I GET TO THE COOL STUFF REACT AND NODE AND HTTP REQUESTS AND LIKE I HEARD MONGODB WAS COOL..."

Woah woah woah woahh! I know that itch to get to the real fun stuff, I was there. But the only way to understand all the JavaScript “offshoots” is to understand JavaScript.

The no-framework, no-jQuery-allowed, good ol’ fashioned plain vanilla gluten-free JavaScript.

The temptation seems irresistible, but try to keep your vision focused on the heart of the JavaScript ecosystem. This is not only a solid path to learning the language, but will set you up for success when it come to learning other things from NoSQL databases to run-time environments like Node.

2. Mark Myers. Know him. Love him.

I truly believe A Smarter Way To Learn JavaScript by Mark Myers is one of the only books suitable for JavaScript beginners.

Most other authors totally go off the deep end when it comes to teaching this language and within 10 minutes are throwing all sorts of crazy concepts your way.

With A Smarter Way, Mark gives you one topic at a time. Best. Book. Ever. Each chapter is usually two or three pages in a nice big font.

A Smarter Way to learn JavaScript

So you read about the concept, then you go to his site and do exercises and coding challenges related to the topic. There is a reason this book get crazy five star reviews and that’s because his approach works.

If learning JavaScript has been a total ride from hell for you, check out A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript. Seriously.

3. Ten minutes is all it takes.

We all have lives and responsibilities and lots of us don’t have four hours a night to dedicate to JavaScript. That’s OK! Can you spare ten minutes? If so, you’re on your way to learning JavaScript.

There’s an acronym I like to use — ABC or Always Be Coding. Try and find just a tiny bit of spare time every day to whip out your code editor and practice. Even just ten minutes will really help. And even if you don’t have a keyboard, mentally practice JavaScript.

Think of all the places you’ll have an opportunity to do this, whether stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, or wherever else. The socials can wait! Practice your ABCs wherever you get the chance and learning JavaScript will become easier.

4. Vanilla JavaScript projects are golden.

Check out most Udemy web developer projects and most of them involve a JS library or framework. Even many beginner projects like TODO apps incorporate a library like jQuery. Try building a few projects using plain JavaScript.

This will give you hands-on experience with the language and show you firsthand how things fit together.

5. People have the power.

Have you gone to a JavaScript or other web developer Meetup yet? No? Why not? If you live in a city, odds are there are Meetups catering to our career field. These places are teeming with the party faithful with a lot of brainpower. Despite the stereotype of software curmudgeons (thank you Stack Overflow for confirming every negative programming personality stereotype), there are LOTS of friendly people who want to help out.

Meetups are EXCELLENT places to meet JavaScript people. Whether you’re learning JavaScript for the first time or have tried multiple times to get it down, Meetups are great places to meet helpful people who know JavaScript.

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Go to the Meetups. I’m shy. You’re shy. Let’s all be shy together. But at least we can meet each other and get better at the world’s most misunderstood language, no?

To summarize, learning JavaScript is hard. It may be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done! And the thing is, you never actually stop learning JavaScript. So don’t beat yourself up if the concepts aren’t sticking right away — this is a tough language!

The most effective things you can do are start and stick with vanilla JavaScript, introduce yourself to Mark Myers if the basics are tough for you, ABC (always be coding, even if just for 10 minutes at a time), get out and meet JavaScript people and in time you will see results.

P.S. Follow me on YouTube where I talk a lot about (mostly) cool web dev stuff:

This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article.

Top comments (3)

joanlowers profile image

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