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John Selawsky
John Selawsky

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Common Mistakes You Make While Learning Programming Languages and How to Avoid Them

Mistakes are an inevitable part of everyone’s life. But, there is no reason to feel afraid or embarrassed by anything you might make. After all, they help us learn better and grow further. The same is applicable for computer programming courses. You will stumble, you will fall, but you will come back better and stronger for it.

So, what are some of the most common mistakes that newbie programming language learners make?

Diving into a Research Zone

Forget the idea that researching as much as you can while learning programming languages will help you along. Too much research usually leads to a hell loop where there is way too much information, more than you need really.

Practicing programming is significantly more important than cramming up on too much theory during the initial stages of learning a programming language. Later, when you get your first projects or start off with interviews, you can easily get back to theory and revise as much as needed.

Piece of Advice

Set an accessible goal. Remember it is much easier to deal with milestones that come one after another than a long-term goal which seems way too far away to even begin with. Only look for the relevant information you need to start the course. Coding and incessant practice, not theory is what will get you to the top.

Learning Too Many Languages All at Once

This section will put a clear emphasis on the idiom — “Jack of all trades and master of none”. Learning different programming languages within various frameworks and attending multiple courses, seminars, and webinars dedicated to all these programming languages will not make you smarter or more knowledgeable.

Instead, you will get more and more confused and waste a lot of time and maybe even money and end up learning all these languages in a half-hearted manner. It is a classic case of not having a proper goal or direction to focus your mind on.

Piece of Advice

The only thing you can do to avoid making this mistake is to make sure you learn and master one language before moving on to the next one.

Lack of Practice

Coding demands repetition. You need to put in some amount of effort every single day in order to get anywhere at all with coding. Everyone has other responsibilities, of course, but trying to set aside even twenty minutes in a day to practice some coding can work wonders for your programming language learning goal.

People usually start out to learn coding in a very enthusiastic manner. But, as they stumble and make some mistakes, and as real-life catches up with them, they slowly lose the high levels of energy they had in the beginning. That simply won’t do.

Making sure that you keep the interest in coding intact is the first step to not missing out on practice. If you do not practice regularly and constantly put in huge gaps between your coding sessions, then learning to code will go in vain. Start with easier tasks, so that you do not get frustrated and carry on with practicing instead of giving up the moment you hit a roadblock.

Piece of Advice

Understand the basics in the beginning. These include the underlying ideas, the frameworks, the data structures, and the design patterns behind programming languages. But, most importantly, keep practicing.

Where Can You Start with Learning to Code?

The following are a few places you can check out for some of the best preliminary coding courses:

CodeGym

This is a learning platform for pure Java with 1200+ tasks to test your skills, both simple with just theory assimilation to complex with the creation of applications like video games or restaurant emulators. The lectures are compact and efficient and there is a built-in validator to check the solutions and help if required. Also, you will never be bored with robot stories which help you learn Java easily.

Codecademy

Hugely popular, this one offers free language courses and technical skillset training, through interactive learning. There are mini sandboxes after every course ends to let you execute codes and check if you have been able to learn anything from the article just before. Only then can you move on.

Treehouse

This one boasts 1000+ hours of the best quality videos on programming for everyone, from beginners to experts who want to learn more. What is more, is the tracking feature that helps you to make a roadmap to know what to learn next. There is a 7-day trial that you can try out, alongside clear time-marked chapter divisions for you to follow so that you do not end up wasting any time. The level of each course milestone is also provided, going from beginner or easy to intermediate and finally to advanced.

Getting Stuck on a Programming Task

There inevitably comes a time when you get stuck on a particular coding problem. It might make you lose focus and start regretting the entire course if you do not handle it within time. Here are some tricks to get you unstuck and out of a whole lot of turmoil in a jiffy:

  • Make sure you understand the problem completely: Articulate the problem to yourself first. Ask yourself questions as to whether you are well-acquainted with the problem and if the problem is well defined at all or not. Figure out smaller steps to meet your goals.
  • Try and try again: Trying some changes, whatever they might be, might just be the answer to your dilemma. 9 times out of 10, trying something out works perfectly.
  • Take advice from others: Asking others, even an inanimate object, is almost like projecting your problems and getting answers all on your own, without the other person even uttering a single word. It even works through text messages.
  • Use the forum: Putting up questions on programming forums is a great way to get some community help from like-minded coders like you.
  • Try a bad way: If the good ideas do not work, try a bad idea that you never thought would work. Even if it does not solve the code, it could put things into perspective. Read the problem again: Study the problem again and again and then take help from the theory that works with it. That is usually enough.
  • Test it out: Write tests to your codes. This is a useful debugging solution that helps you keep the risks away and focus fully on the solution instead.
  • Give yourself a break: Take a tiny break from working. Go for a walk somewhere or take a power nap. This usually puts things into perspective.
  • Do something else: The last resort is usually to work on some other problem or go make yourself a cup of tea.

Piece of Advice

Take a tiny break, and leave the problem for a while. Maybe try to solve some other problem. Read some theory if you have simply forgotten about the problem. Maybe you will be able to work it out then!

Coding in Isolation

When it comes to coding, having a community to reach out to when you get stuck in some coding problems is a blessing. Be a member of meet-ups or coding alliances by participating in coding platforms. Programmers can talk to each other, learn more, and vent when the going gets tough.

Here are some programming communities which you can join right away:

  • Stack Overflow: With over 50M users, this forum was launched in 2008. You just have to log in, ask questions or even give solutions.
  • Reddit: Just log in to place questions or give solutions for any technological problem.
  • Coderanch: This one is good for both beginners and advanced coders. If you are a newbie, you can even learn Java here. Also, the Topics section has articles on coding.
  • HackerNews: All the news about cybersecurity and hacking can be found right here in this forum.
  • freeCodeCamp: Learning coding for free, along with videos, articles, and interactive classes can be found right here.
  • Quora: Ask questions on Quora just like Reddit by logging in and get answers from tech experts all over the world.

Lack of Backups of Your Work

Lacking backup cannot ever be something that a coder says. This will make you lose long hours of work. Uploading them to your Google Drive or Github are foolproof yet easy ways to keep backups of your codes.

Piece of Advice

Pick out the tool which is most convenient for you and keep backups of your codes, no matter what.

Giving Up Too Early

Programming is not learned at the drop of a hat. Being good enough requires lots of patience, focus, discipline, effort, energy, time, and interest in coding. Getting frustrated the moment you hit a snag will never let you get to advanced programming modules. Learning from your mistakes is the first step in this coding journey. But, it is even better to look at common mistakes that others have made before you and try to avoid them.

Piece of Advice

Have patience and do not get frustrated easily. You will get to an advanced level fast enough that way.

Conclusion

Programming cannot be learned in one go. Being steady, setting goals, and retaining your interest in coding is the first step towards achieving your long-term goal of creating a career in this field. For beginners, it is important to choose a simple and holistic programming language. What is better than to learn Java? If you are worried about making copious mistakes, then go through this article to learn which ones not to make!

First published at GitConnected.

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