Is Learning Python the same as Learning Coding? Should I learn several coding languages at the same time? Is Python the only language I need to learn?
Plenty of questions. If you're tight for time, here are the short answers to start with:
No. No (in many cases). No, or maybe yes, it depends.
Let's now have a look at each of these questions in a bit more detail, and these are very relevant to both Python coding for kids but also for adults who want to learn how to code.
Is Learning Python the Same as Learning Coding?
There is a subtle but very important difference between learning Python and learning coding.
Let's start with coding.
Coding is a subject, or a skill, or a mindset, or all of these. In coding we need to learn how to break down a problem into logical steps that follow the basic principles. These principles, or rules, are designed to 'translate' from how humans thinks to how computers operate.
Coding, in many ways, is the act of converting human thoughts into instructions that a 'stupid' computer can understand and exectute.
Python is a language. Once we have translated our human ideas into computational steps, we need to be able to express them in a language that the computer understands. This is where programming languages come in. And there are many coding languages around!
This means that there is no point in knowing Python, or any coding language, if you don't know coding first.
But you cannot learn coding without using a coding language. Still, it's important to understand the distinction between learning Python and learning coding.
Should I Learn Several Coding Languages at the Same Time?
I'll pick up where I left in the previous section. What really matters is learning coding, not learning a coding language. In many ways, the coding language itself can be a distraction when learning the fundamentals of coding.
But there is a solution.
Some languages are harder than others. Some are heavy on syntax (the grammar is harder and stricter), while others aren't. Since what you want is to learn coding first and foremost, you want to learn by using one of the smoother languages. And Python is the language that stands out in this respect, while also being a proper, 'real world' language. It's why is the language we teach codetoday students.
So, why shouldn't one learn more than one language at the same time? While there are advantages to having exposure to several programming languages, each of which might provide a different 'perspective' on certain coding topics, it can also cause more confusion and a beginner will have to spend more brainpower dealing with the differences in 'grammar' of the languages, rather than the fundamentals.
A better approach when going through the early and intermediate stages is to stick with one language until a good degree of proficiency is achieved. Once a coder is confident, it is relatively easy to switch to another language, as at that stage, the coder no longer needs to learn the fundamental concepts—they know these already—so all they need to do is learn the subtle (and sometimes less subtle) differences between the languages themselves.
Is Python the Only Language I Need to Learn?
Computer programming has very broad applications, and these applications are very diverse, in all possible ways. Some programming applications will require a programmer to be proficient in more than one language. Most professional developers are fluent in several languages.
However there are also applications of coding in which one language is all you need. Many people who use coding in science or data analysis, for example, may be perfectly fine using just one language, such as Python.
The best rule of thumb to use is to get as proficient as possible in the first language you start learning, and then only shift to learning a new language if and when the need arises.
I Know Python. What Next?
"I know Python" is a dangerous phrase to use. The more one learns in coding in general, and Python in particalar, the more one realises how much more there is to learn. But what happens once a student has gained a good level of proficiency?
Learning coding is not an end in itself. Coding is about providing solutions to problems. So the best thing to do once "you know Python" is to use it for real world problems. Think of things in your daily life where you think a computer program can make your life easier, or can allow you to do something you wouldn't otherwise be able to do.
Start solving problems that need solving by writing Python programs.
Remember, learning how to code in Python is not the end of the journey, it's just the start.