Take a few minutes (or a day) to think about the reasons—the real reasons—why you want to learn a programming language. Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to learn the barest minimum to score a promotion? Are you looking to make a big career change? Do you want to create the next greatest app? Thrill your roommates by programming your various smart devices to do something awesome?

Your answer can help determine which programming language(s) you should master, as well as what sort of commitment (in time and money) your goal may require. For example, if your dream is to create the next great operating system or a killer alternative to PhotoShop , you would benefit from a formal computer science education that teaches you C++, as well as more complex topics like data structure, algorithms and memory allocation.
Scott Morris is Skillcrush's staff writer and content producer. Like all the members of Skillcrush's team, he works remotely (in his case from Napa, CA). He believes that content that's worth reading (and that your audience can find!) creates brands that people follow. He's experienced writing on topics including jobs and technology, digital marketing, career pivots, gender equity, parenting, and popular culture. Before starting his career as a writer and content marketer, he spent 10 years as a full-time parent to his daughters Veronica and Athena.
As a self-taught programmer, you might also benefit from books that offer broader advice on the profession. You’ll improve your thinking and habits, traits you can apply to any language you decide to learn. Steve McConnell’s 900-page Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (2nd Edition) is considered the definitive guide for best practices, with data-backed advice on everything from project design to debugging code.
Skillcrush’s Free Coding Camp is our totally beginner-friendly intro to tech, techies, and kick-ass careers that you can complete in less than five minutes a day. Delivered straight to your inbox, you will learn how to code in the simplest terms possible—and even get to try writing your own code!—so you can see if learning coding is the right move for you…
As a self-taught programmer, you might also benefit from books that offer broader advice on the profession. You’ll improve your thinking and habits, traits you can apply to any language you decide to learn. Steve McConnell’s 900-page Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (2nd Edition) is considered the definitive guide for best practices, with data-backed advice on everything from project design to debugging code.
Third, Keybr.com lets you introduce as few keys as possible to the lesson, adding more keys automatically when it decides that you are proficient at the current level. When you only start learning it generates lessons with words from a very small alphabet of the most frequent letters. When your typing speed for every key in that alphabet reaches certain threshold, the algorithm adds the next most frequent letter to the alphabet. And so on, until the next letter. This way you will learn the most frequent letters first, and the least frequent ones later.

You need to be patient with yourself; don’t expect to code the next Fortnite after just a few months of study or a few bootcamps. Coding an error-free wedding RSVP form on a website, or making a simple-yet-correct number prediction game, is already a significant achievement for a beginner. If you get stuck, don’t give up. You should absolutely look for help everywhere you can find it, but also know when to take a break to avoid burnout. And then try, try again.


Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy Kids was created by experienced early learning experts who have created 22 other top-selling titles and received 22 Parents’ Choice Awards, 19 Children’s Technology Review Awards, and a KAPi award for Best Children’s App at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The Khan Academy Kids team is a passionate group of engineers, artists, designers, and educators who joined Khan Academy from Duck Duck Moose, a maker of popular educational apps for kids. Khan Academy Kids is 100% free without ads or subscriptions.
What an incredible app. I’m so impressed. This company deserves loads of money to be thrown at it for making it free. My son has just switched from a Cambridge school to an American School and missed a lot of work. I think we were both about to give up. I didn’t know where to start to help him and being his new school is completely iPad based we felt deep despair at just the thought of trying to navigate through classrooms codes and half working text book apps. Now it’s all here in one place! Simple well explained and the practice really gets your confidence going. He had some maths homework and instead of the total melt down we both would have had trying to work out what was going on we flew through it!! THANK YOU! I love the fact that all the grades are here too so if there is a concept he is struggling with we can go back in the grades to see where that was introduced and work through it! We have been struggling for months trying to find the answer on line. It was only due to the fact that Khan kept coming up that I googled it and found the app. I truly pray this company gets loads of financial support to keep this app going! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
Take a few minutes (or a day) to think about the reasons—the real reasons—why you want to learn a programming language. Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to learn the barest minimum to score a promotion? Are you looking to make a big career change? Do you want to create the next greatest app? Thrill your roommates by programming your various smart devices to do something awesome?
I can’t recommend Harvard’s CS50x Introduction to Computer Science enough. You can audit the course for free via edX and earn a certificate by completing all the assignments, or you can go at your own pace and watch all the lectures posted on Youtube. You can build your own DIY college-level computer science program with this selection of fifteen online courses (many of which are also listed in our Lifehacker U series).

Take a few minutes (or a day) to think about the reasons—the real reasons—why you want to learn a programming language. Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to learn the barest minimum to score a promotion? Are you looking to make a big career change? Do you want to create the next greatest app? Thrill your roommates by programming your various smart devices to do something awesome?
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