Last Updated on October 9, 2020
Learning how to code might be challenging as a beginner, but the process can get easier by understanding all the important aspects. One of them is knowing which programming languages to learn first.
Choosing the right programming language requires knowing its benefit and how it aligns with your learning needs. For that reason, this article lists 12 programming languages and guides you to choose the best one to learn as a beginner.
Best Practices to Learn How to Code
Before we get to the 12 programming languages, let’s begin by understanding the best ways to learn to code. Try employing one or more of these practices to help you.
- Determine your purpose. Start by understanding why you want to learn to code and determine your end goals. It helps to know what to develop or what type of developer you want to be.
- Consider multiple learning sources. Fortunately, learning a new skill these days is made easier with many reliable learning sources. Coding can be learned from books, online classes, YouTube, or just as simple as using Google.
- Understand the basics. HTML and CSS code covers the basics of coding. By understanding both, learning new programming languages will be easier. Consider beginner-friendly platforms like Lynda or Udemy to learn HTML and CSS codes work.
- Create a website. Most often, learning by doing is best. Take your knowledge of HTML and CSS to practice by creating a website. Start by choosing the right web hosting provider, then select a web hosting plan for beginners, like com, with their affordable host options.
- Build and adjust the habit. Coding takes time and determination to learn. Track your progress by building a learning habit and adjusting it with your daily schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t limit your learning. Remember to always learn, be open to trial and error, and not be too hard on yourself. Little progress is still progress.
Most Popular Programming Languages for Beginners in 2020
We picked these 12 programming languages based on their purposes, learning values, and market demand. Each programming language is added with the list of pros and cons to align them better with your needs.
Python is one of the easiest and popular languages to learn as a beginner. You can develop websites, games, and artificial intelligence using Python, making a Python developer a high-demand job. It’s popular among startups and established brands, like Instagram, Google, Spotify, and Netflix.
Pros and cons of Python
- Easy to read, allowing fluent learning
- Can scale complex applications with ease
- Important for data learning
- Slow speed
- Not suitable for front-end development
- Has a syntax that’s different from a lot of other languages
- Great speed
- A great addition to front end coding skillsets
- Functional across multiple platforms
- Not always compatible with different browsers
- Less secure as the code executes on the users’ computer
Java is a straightforward yet stable and secure programming language that is preferred by large corporations. It’s also used to develop Android apps, creating huge opportunities for Java developers as the operating system continues to dominate the market.
Pros and cons of Java
- Highly secure thanks to advanced authentication
- Object-oriented programming, making it a practical problem solver
- Platform-independent language that allows easier transfer between computer systems
- Slow performance
- Massive memory requirements
- High-cost due to memory processing requirements
Swift is used to develop most iOS applications. Being the second most popular operating system, learning Swift is useful to become an iOS developer. This open-source programming language quickly became popular among developers in just six years.
Pros and cons of Swift
- Fast development
- Concise for mobile apps
- Integrated with Apple
- Not as old as other programming languages
- Poor compatibility within versions
- Limited, only for iOS applications
C# was created by Windows and used to develop PC games, web apps, and desktop software. Being a multi-paradigm language, C# can be integrated with Android and iOS applications using Xamarin. Consider learning C# if you want to become a Windows or game developer.
Pros and cons of C#
- Suitable for back end development
- Integrates well with Windows
- Modern object-oriented programming
- Microsoft stopped supporting older versions of .NET frameworks
- Limited to Windows-based servers
- Lacks security
Go, or Golang is created by Google and popular among Silicon Valley startups. It aims to simplify the complexity of other languages, making it a simple language to learn. It’s capable of handling back end systems and massive data. Go is used by Dropbox, Uber, and Netflix.
Pros and cons of Go
- Open source programming
- Has an extensive standard library
- Secure for system-level programming
- Limited documentation
- High-level language with low-level features
Ruby was created to make programming fun, making it a simple yet great language to learn for beginners. Compared to Python, Ruby ranks lower in general popularity but higher in web development. Ruby also requires less code to achieve project goals.
Pros and cons of Ruby
- High-level language
- Open-source, flexible and cross-platform
- Declining popularity
- Can be difficult to debug
- Smaller community compared to Python
As one of the first programming languages created, C is an excellent foundation to learn Python or Ruby. C is mostly used to develop hardware and is beneficial for large organizations. Companies like Microsoft, GitHub, and Nvidia use C for their systems.
Pros and cons of C
- Efficient language with built-in functions
- Lower-level language capable of developing systems with high-level performance
- Can be challenging to integrate with modern programs
- Doesn’t support object-oriented programming
- Low-level of abstraction, affecting its security
As one of the earliest programming languages, C++ is an extension of C and still dominates the world of web development and great to learn for beginners. C++ can be useful to learn if you want to be a system-level programmer.
Pros and cons of C++
- The basis for learning more complex languages
- Efficient and easy to understand programs
- Large community support
- Has security issues
- Difficult pointers
- Not easy to learn programming
PHP is one of the earliest and most popular programming languages. It’s a general-purpose programming language but focuses on the back end and web development. Facebook, WordPress, and Tumblr use the language.
Pros and cons of PHP
- Easy to learn
- Has many powerful frameworks
- Many platforms that support PHP learning
- Requires extensions to certain extents
- Lacks security
- Poor error handling
R is commonly used for machine learning and statistical software development. R developers are in high demand for their massive data analysis in corporations. Among many others, Twitter uses R for data visualization, and Facebook uses it for behavior analysis.
Pros and cons of R
- Capable of handling extensive mathematical analysis
- Runs seamlessly on various operating systems
- Suitable for data visualization and reporting
- Lacks security
- No strict guidelines for programming
- Poor memory management
SQL is a great programming language for Business Intelligence as it’s able to communicate and manipulate databases. SQL is popular within finance, social media, and music applications. Learning SQL as a beginner allows you to understand how software databases work.
Pros and cons of SQL
- Reliable and efficient
- Easy to understand
- Interface difficulties
- Has cost issues
- Limited access to database handling
How to Choose the Best Programming Language as a Beginner
After learning about the 12 programming languages mentioned, you might wonder how to choose the best one to learn as a beginner. To answer that, we’ve listed these tips for your consideration:
- Focus on one programming language. Like learning human languages, start with in-depth learning of one programming language instead of spreading your attention thin. Avoid learning multiple languages all at once.
- Choose your development field. You can focus on many areas, like making websites, mobile apps, creating AI, and data analysis. Choosing this helps sort out all the programming language options available.
- Think long-term. Thinking long-term helps if you’re still unsure which programming language to learn first. This allows knowing what steps to develop your coding skill. Consider the options, like becoming a freelance developer, working full-time, or creating your development projects.
- Consider the job market. If you want to take a career in web development, consider the programming languages’ market demand to help you decide.