When learning a foreign language, the focus is almost entirely on the language itself. The most important aspects to learn are the vocabulary and grammar of the new language we are learning.
When learning how to code however, the language itself is not the main point. We cannot learn how to code without using a coding language, but the language should not be our main focus. What really matters is learning programming: learning how to think in a logical and structured way, how to break down ideas into small, clear steps, and how to represent these steps in a way that a computer can understand. Computers are not clever, which is why we need to communicate with them in a special way.
From the age of about 7 and upwards, kids' activities online and offline in coding should really all be in Python or similar languages
This does not mean that the coding language we choose does not matter. On the contrary it is a very important choice.
At one end of the spectrum we have Scratch and similar platforms that are specifically aimed at children. These platforms have their uses, especially for the very young, but they are not teaching children programming. Any programmer will tell you that Scratch is not what coding looks like. There are many aspects of programming that can only be truly grasped when using a proper coding language. Children also get bored of Scratch after a while as they reach the limit of what it can do. We want to make sure children don't get to that stage as they may confuse 'Scratch is boring' with 'coding is boring'
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have languages such as Java or C++. These languages have a relatively steep learning curve which can put students off before they get to the fun stuff. They also distract from focusing on the fundamentals of programming.
This is where Python comes in. So here are 5 reasons why we believe Python is the language the learn when learning how to code:
Python is easier to read and write compared with other languages. From a learning point of view this means that, right from the first lesson, every line of code we write can be explained and understood by the students. In languages such as Java or C++, for example, there is no option other than to tell students: "ignore these words/lines for now, they will make sense after 20 lessons". The latter makes learning harder.
Python allows the focus to be on learning coding and not a coding language. Beginners need to focus on learning how to think in the right way to become programmers. Python allows you to focus less on the details of the language and more on the important concepts in programming.
Python is a general purpose language that can be used for many applications. This is important when learning as it allows us to use projects ranging from writing games to science simulations and analysing data. This also means that as children become more proficient, they can explore several branches of programming without having to change language.
Python is one of the most popular languages worldwide. Over the past decade, Python has become one of the most prominent programming languages, used in applications as diverse as finance, science, web development and more. Of course, languages ebb and flow over the years and there is no guarantee that a leading language today will still be popular in 2040. But Python is so widely used today, both in commercial and academic environments, that it will certainly be around for a long time.
Python is fun to read and write.
At codetoday, we have always run our courses in Python. We deliberately choose to use one language as there is little benefit in trying to learn many languages at once. For most students learning how to code, they will have no reason to learn another language as Python will allow them to do whatever they want to achieve. And for those who eventually need to learn a new language for specific projects, proficiency in Python will mean that learning a new language is relatively easy.
Why not join us to start learning coding in Python. Our next Live Online courses start in May half term.