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How To Learn Java And Not Getting Bored

selawsky profile image John Selawsky ・9 min read

Even the fastest and super talented student, who adores their subject of studying, sometimes gets tired and bored with this process. It is a natural thing. Every learning process contains routine, and if you want to be successful in your deed, you can’t just avoid it.

This rule is even enhanced when it comes to such a multifaceted area as programming. In this article, I will consider several approaches to learning and tell you how it is worth learning programming, so as not to drown in the routine and not lose motivation.

First of all, where to learn Java or other languages?

There are different ways.

Classics: colleges and universities

In former times higher education was the only logical way to software development, but even then there were many exceptions. If you are lucky to study at a good university with classy and progressive teachers, higher education, of course, will be your advantage. Especially if you want to do science.

Nevertheless, in real life, only a small part of software developers are engaged in knowledge-intensive tasks. Your interviewers don’t expect you having an excellent grades diploma, but good practical skills. I doubt you will not be hired if you are able to solve real problems. However, if you won’t… Why do you need such a job?

Pros:

  • Prestige.
  • Fundamental knowledge that will help you in software engineer work.
  • Experience you’ve got in your learning projects.

Cons:

  • 4 or more years of studying.
  • Some subjects could be a waste of your time.
  • Not all teachers and syllabuses adapt to modern realities.
  • Very often you don’t get real practical skills for real programming.
  • Good colleges are pretty expensive.

Where to go if you really want to get a computer science degree? There is no universal answer, but you may try to search in theWorldUniversityRanking.

Offline /Online courses with fixed time of classes

Good news: offline programming courses last much less than studying at a university. They usually take a standard semester, that is about 4–5 months. These courses are reminiscent of lectures and practical classes at the university, which go on a certain schedule online or offline.

Pros:

  • You have a specific schedule, plan compiled by professionals. So you know what to do at the next step.
  • Your tutor checks your code and knowledge.
  • You can consult with your tutor.
  • Usually, you can discuss your problems with your classmates.

Cons:

  • At such courses, the material is presented very concisely. If you miss a couple of classes, you can be significantly behind the group.
  • They are pretty expensive.
  • For a good result, your tutor should be both a good programmer and a good teacher.
  • A tutor is too busy to give enough time for every student
  • Are you from a small town? I don’t think you will find good offline software developer courses.

Online courses with video lectures, books, tutorials

Good lectures are worth their weight in gold. However, do not forget that programming is primarily a practical activity. Therefore, lectures posted on YouTube, on the website or on paper are very useful, but this is only part of the study and not the most important one.

Pros:

  • Clear structure.
  • Fundamental knowledge.

Cons:

  • You don’t become a programmer just reading or listening to lectures.
  • Even if you find exercises in your books or video lectures, you need somebody to check your solutions.
  • Not enough tasks.
  • You should control yourself to learn regularly.

Therefore, using such courses or books is a good idea, but that’s not the basis of your studies.

Modern practical online courses and tasks collections

Recent years there are many interactive online courses and applications appeared. They offer you tasks on writing code. Sometimes there is a built-in code validator. Personally, I really like this trend. I would be much happier having such interactive tasks collections during my learning.

Pros:

  • Practice. You really learn how to code.
  • Interesting tasks.

Cons:

  • Usually tasks collections not suitable for complete beginners, they require some previous knowledge.
  • Sometimes these collections don’t have a structure and lectures, so you need to use the other sources.
  • Again, you should control yourself to learn regularly.

So, what should you do? How to learn Java?

Practice is #1!

It’s too much “conses” in every paragraph, isn’t it? However, it does not mean that there is no suitable method to learn to programme. In fact, in each category, you can find very good solutions for you. Furthermore, your personal mix of these ways is a really good idea. For example, read a Java book you like all together with solving coding problems from the online collection. Go to courses with a mentor and … additionally, solve coding problems. Studying computer science at the university and … again, solve coding problems. It was not a coincidence that I mentioned practical tasks as much as three times. I am sincerely sure that practice is that magic key to the successful development of a programmer. So my answer is this: learn Java anywhere, but solving a lot of coding problems is a must. I mean, write the code every day even if you don’t have such home task from your teacher.

Tasks sources:

CodeGym — an online Java Core Course with 1200 coding tasks (from the easiest to pretty tough) and validator and lectures…
GeeksForGeeks — a good resource with many tasks and different courses. You can find here many coding tasks to understand algorithms and solve puzzles.
CodeWars — you can find there different puzzles, it is really interesting to solve.

How to avoid boredom and don’t lose your motivation

Set your goals

It is really easy if you study at the university or courses, you just have your schedule. However, what should you do if you learn Java all alone? The good idea is looking for a schedule of online courses for beginners with high ratings. I usually propose my students next schedule + to-do list

(I will give it here in short form, without details)

Java Core and a little bit more

The process of learning lasts 2 to 6 months depending on students previous experience and time they are ready to dedicate to their learning.

Learning some non-Java technologies that usually use software developer’s job

It lasts a few days to 2 weeks per technology.

  • Git and bitbucket/github (you can learn it pretty fast using, for example, learngitbranching and use it for your projects later)
  • JavaScript (every developer should know this language a little bit)
  • SQL or Structured Query Language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). SQL is easy to learn on the beginner level.

Mastering your knowledge

After the second step you know a lot and the good idea is choosing what to do later. You can learn Android for mobile development or a bunch of enterprise technologies such as Spring and Hibernate if you are planning to work in industry level company. However, these technologies are difficult to learn by yourself. So, you’d better find a mentor, courses or an internship. One more thing: it’s a good time to write your own project. It could be a game or Android application, something, you can add to your CV.

…This is only an approximate way. You are free to create your own To-do list and stick to it. Believe me, ticking is very nice. I am glad that some modern online courses integrate motivation and gamification into the educational process.

For example, in the CodeGym Java course, in addition to training lectures and a huge number of tasks, there are motivational lectures. You pump your character, moving from level to level. Each level contains several lectures and many tasks. And also, solving problems you gain points — a dark matter that you spend on opening new lectures and moving to the next levels.

At CodeCademy, achievements and badges are very well woven into the course. In addition, these courses have a very user-friendly interface.

Codewars is a good site for intermediate to advanced Java students, where you solve enjoyable problems and puzzles. You start with kyu 8 (rank) and your goal is to improve it to the highest rank, kyu 1. It motivates.

Keep your balance. Know how to stacking in the right way

It is very important to determine when you do not have enough knowledge and skills to solve a problem, or you are just too lazy. At the first steps of your learning studies, it is better to quit a little bit earlier. While your coding skills grow, on the contrary, it is better to “suffer” a little longer trying to solve a tough problem.

How to solve a coding problem. Approximate procedure for avoiding meaningless stacking.

1 - First, you need to understand the condition.

1.1 - If you read it a few times and still don’t understand it, go to step

1.2 - If you get the condition, do not rush immediately to code. Build an approximate algorithm of the solution in yours. Does algorithm appear?

1.2.1 - If not, go to step 2.

1.2.2 - If yes, start to code.

1.3 - If something doesn’t work right, use your go with your IDE debugger step-by-step and try to understand what works the wrong way.

1.4 - Still not working? Analyze the algorithm. Try to change it.

1.4.1 - If you don’t know what to do, after all, the debugger’s instructions do not tell you anything, it’s time to go to step 2.

1.4.2 - If you know what to do, well, just do it.

2 - Ask for help.

2.1 - If you have been helped, return to the point from which you came here. If you have not been helped, leave this task, for now, try to solve the other task.

Attention, please! Do not hesitate to ask for help! Every programmer was a beginner once and every programmer even the-best-pro uses forums for their work.

Use Javaranch (beginner’s friendly forum) or StackOverflow (the most popular forum for devs).

Learn how to be distracted by… the other programming learning topic

Sometimes you feel overwhelmed and tired of your schedule. If you are self-learner, it is a good time… to make a knight’s move. Try something connected to programming but not your direct learning topic. What it could be?

  1. You may start thinking of your own project, especially if you already know Java Core.
  2. If you don’t feel confident, try to do a project using step-by-step instructions:
  • There are many appropriate videos on YouTube. For example, Make a Tic-Tac-Toe Game — Java Beginner’s tutorial or something like that.
  • On CodeGym there is an exciting and free to use Games Section. There you can create your own versions of some legendary video games. Now it’s Minesweeper, 2048 and Snake. Each game is divided by two dozen subtasks and step-by-step instructions. You get your subtask and tips than write your code, and when you finish, your code is checking by auto CodeGym System. If the code is working the right way, you go to the next step.
  • Robocode. It is a game, where you learn to develop a robot battle tank in Java. This is one of the first Java gaming projects that are still alive and it is fascinating.
  1. Try some other technologies or topics. If you are tired of Java, maybe now it is a good moment to learn the basics of JavaScript or SQL. As I wrote above, if you are planning to be a software developer, you should know them. Or, probably, learn interesting Java libraries or frameworks for your next project. It could be libGDX if you are interested in mobile/indie game development.

Conclusions

Remember: every learner suffers from boredom and loses motivation from time to time. However there are different ways to struggle it, just don’t stop and keep up your learning for your future profession.

Posted on by:

selawsky profile

John Selawsky

@selawsky

A senior Java developer and Java tutor. In Java We Trust.

Discussion

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I offer you to try hyperskill.org/ if you want learn Java step by step.