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?
On the other hand, if you’re a mid-career professional looking to transition into a tech career, a short-term coding bootcamp might make more sense than going into debt for a second degree. If all you want to do is build websites or push your Raspberry Pi to its limits, a combination of interactive tutorials and free online courses might be enough to get you going.
Founded in 2012, Coursera has grown into a major for-profit educational-technology company that has offered more than 1,000 courses from 119 institutions. While you can pay for certain programs to receive a certificate, there are a number of free introductory programming courses in various specializations from universities such as the University of Washington, Stanford, the University of Toronto and Vanderbilt.
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.
Learn using videos, interactive exercises, and in-depth articles in math (arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, linear algebra), science (biology, chemistry, physics), economics (microeconomics, macroeconomics), humanities (art history, civics, finance, US history, US government and politics, world history), and more (including computer science principles)!
Created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan, Khan Academy is one of the original free online-learning institutions. With step-by-step video tutorials, you can  learn how to program drawings, animations and games using JavaScript and ProcessingJS, or learn how to create webpages with HTML and CSS. See, especially, Khan's "Hour of Code," designed to introduce students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.
Once you figure out why you want to code, you can more easily pinpoint which programming language you should tackle. While there is no single “best” programming language to learn, some languages are more user-friendly than others. HTML and CSS are considered the easiest entry points into the coding world, but they are only really useful for developing basic websites.

Skyship Entertainment™ is the creator of the beloved children’s brand, Super Simple™. Their award-winning Super Simple Songs® combines delightful animation and puppetry with original and classic kids’ songs to help make learning simple and fun. With over 10 billion views and 10 million subscribers on YouTube, their songs and videos are favorites with parents, teachers, and kids around the globe.
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.
You may have enough experience typing to know most of the common keys - the letters, the space bar, enter, and I’ll bet you know that backspace! But you might be uncomfortable with some of the keys you don’t use as frequently. Do you have to slow down and look at the keyboard to type a number or symbol? If you program or work with spreadsheets you will use the symbol keys frequently. If you are a gamer there are probably CTRL, ALT and function keys that you fumble for in the heat of the battle. In fact, most all programs can be used more productively when you know the key combo shortcuts for doing common tasks. Hitting these awkward keys and combos accurately allows you to maintain focus on what you are doing, so make sure you include them in your typing practice.
EdX is another leading online-learning platform that is open source instead of for-profit. It was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, so you know that you’ll learn about cutting-edge technologies and theories. Today, edX includes 53 schools. You probably can’t go wrong with the free Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard University.
On the other hand, if you’re a mid-career professional looking to transition into a tech career, a short-term coding bootcamp might make more sense than going into debt for a second degree. If all you want to do is build websites or push your Raspberry Pi to its limits, a combination of interactive tutorials and free online courses might be enough to get you going.
×