Is It Really Possible to Teach Yourself Coding?

Can You Really Teach Yourself Coding?

Coding is a form of digital literacy that finds its way into many facets of life, from the workplace to the classroom.  Understanding coding is important to make sense of the many technological advances around us. While understanding code is important, some people prefer to learn the actual art of coding.

It is possible to teach yourself how to code, but you can expect to be challenged in the process.  There are many different aspects of coding, so it is easy for a novice to get lost in the process.  While it may seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to ease yourself into becoming a coding expert. 

In this article, you will learn the best way to teach yourself the art of coding. 

Before Teaching Yourself How to Code

When you decide that you are ready to learn the coding process, you must understand you are preparing to embark on a journey that can be very challenging, and it will likely be a slow process.  Because coding is a complex process with many facets, there are some things you need to do to prepare yourself for the process fully. 

Know Your Why:  Before you begin learning how to code, determine exactly why you want to learn. Are you learning as a hobby, or are you hoping to turn this learning into a career?  These reasons are on completely different ends of the spectrum and will likely lead you down different paths when it comes to finding resources and where you begin your journey. 

Be Patient:  Often, when people decide to learn something new, there is a driving factor or force behind the decision. Perhaps you’ve spoken with a professional coder or have watched a documentary and have a sudden fire for coding.  No matter where your inspiration is coming from, it is critical that you are patient with the process.  You cannot become an expert overnight. 

Basics are best: Just like anything, it is important to focus on the basics of coding when you begin.  If you don’t understand the basics, it will be challenging to move toward more complex concepts in the process.  Just like a house needs a foundation to stand strong, the basics of coding will help strengthen your understanding when challenges arise. 

Extra Tips and Tricks

Practice:  You will find hundreds, if not thousands, of books on the topic of coding. While reading is a great way to build your knowledge and understanding, it is not the best way to learn.  The art of coding is best learned by being hands-on.  This process will likely take you to the frustration level and back many times over, but you are more likely to learn and retain what you have learned by actively participating in the process. 

Find a mentor:  Learning coding is challenging to do on your own, so it may be wise to enlist the help of an actual expert.  If you don’t know someone personally, you may find an expert with online tutorials.  While this won’t likely allow you to ask questions, it can be a good way to go through the process of learning. 

Less is more:  Instead of purchasing all of the resources you can find about coding, stick to a small number of resources.  This includes your computer and other pieces of technology.  If you have ever looked at a professional coder’s workspace, you may have noticed multiple monitors, an ultra highspeed computer, and other things.  Remember, they are an expert; you are just learning.  You don’t need all of the bells and whistles until you know what you are doing. 

Start small:  When you begin to learn to code, you likely have big aspirations of what you would like to create.  While this is a great way to think with the end in mind, you need to remember that you are just beginning, and there are many steps to get to the final product you may have in mind.  Begin completing small projects.  Not only will this help secure your understanding of the basics, but it will also give you the confidence to attempt more challenging projects. 

Focus:  When you go to a class for coding, you are essentially a captive audience, and you have a teacher that is there to captivate your attention and answer any questions you may have.  Choosing to study at home can be challenging when it comes to focusing on the task at hand. There are many distractions, and you will likely not have someone sitting with you to offer support or pull you back on track.  This can be challenging when you are learning new materials, especially teaching yourself. 

As you can see, many considerations need to be made before you jump into teaching yourself the art of coding.  If you notice, the items above aren’t related to ability; they are more closely related to planning and preparation that may need to occur.  If you find one area you know you will struggle with more than the others, you can be proactive with your planning. 

Types of Coding

Before you begin learning how to code independently, you need to be aware of the different coding types.  Like most things, they aren’t all the same. It is important to know that types of coding are referred to as languages.  Just like spoken language, some are easier to learn than others. Here are the most common languages.

Python

The Python coding language is considered one of the easiest coding languages to begin with because it is both easy to read and understand.  This language is a great beginner language because it is pretty straightforward. The great thing about Python is that you can use it in both online and mobile applications.  So once you learn the language, you can apply it in a variety of areas. 

Python may be a “beginner” language, but don’t be fooled into thinking it can only accomplish beginning coding tasks. The Python language is used in several complex coding programs as well. Another amazing advantage of learning Python is that it is a completely free platform that can allow updates from users, not just the individuals that maintain the website.  

(Source: Thinkful)

C#

The C# coding language is quickly gaining popularity, but it is more challenging to learn than other languages.  The main focus of C# is for use on the Windows platform.  Because of this, once you have learned the language, you may not find a tremendous amount of flexibility to use it across platforms like you may with others. 

When learning C#, you will spend a lot of time learning the basics of the language, which means you will likely have to spend an excessive amount of time teaching yourself the complexities of C# that will allow you to create more challenging applications and complex.  If you are learning this as something to do, the minimum is likely enough.  However, if you are learning this to begin a career, you will want to buckle up for a longer ride to ensure you know the ins and outs of the C# language. 

(Source: Medium)

Java

The Java language is a great place to begin your coding lessons. While it may not be as simplistic as some, it is still an easy-to-understand language. You can use Java for simple tasks and more complex projects you could find yourself involved in. 

Java isn’t without challenges or complications, but it is a bit more helpful when working on real-world problems.  Although other languages are more simplistic, Java appears to be more applicable in certain situations.  Whether your needs are basic or complex, Java would be a helpful language to pick up. 

(Source: Code Gym)

Java Script

Java Script is a more complicated programming language to learn how to use, not necessarily because of the language itself, but because of the precursors required to understand it fully.  Unlike some of the more basic programming languages, Java Script requires you to have a working knowledge of HTML and CCS.

If you choose to begin with JavaScript as your first coding language, it can be self-taught, but you need to prepare to teach yourself the other items beforehand.  This may take more time than you are willing to devote to the process, so it is important to know what you can expect. 

(Source: Jaxenter)

Ruby

Ruby is a coding language that is similar to Python. However, the complex capabilities are not quite the same.  Ruby is great for beginners because of the simplicity and ease of use, but you will likely want to move toward a different coding language if you plan to attack larger projects. 

(Source: Best Programming Language for Me)

What Materials do You Need?

If you are ready to teach yourself the art of coding, you are probably wondering what materials you need to accomplish the task. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to learn how to code.  The main things you will need are:

Computer: If you want to learn to code, you will need a computer to begin learning. You may be able to switch to a tablet once you are adept at coding, but it isn’t recommended to begin there, as it can be challenging to navigate and will require the purchase of different apps. 

Because you are a beginning coder, you don’t need to worry about purchasing the most expensive and powerful computer you can find. A basic laptop will likely do the job well. 

Internet:  You need to have a strong connection to the internet to learn how to and practice coding.  It wouldn’t be advised to attempt using a hotspot for your primary internet source, as this can be an unreliable option. 

If you are taking on the coding project as a fun learning experience, you can get away with a slower internet speed.  However, if you plan to have a career in coding, you will want to invest in a higher-speed connection that is more equipped to download things quickly.  This will help save time and limit your frustration. 

Support Group: If you are diving headlong into coding and intend to make it a career, it would be wise to find and join a support group.  This will provide you with accountability and a place to vent frustrations, ask questions, and trade helpful tips and ideas with one another. 

There are coding groups for specific demographics, as well as open coding groups that you can join. Many of the groups involve frequent meet-ups so you can have in-person interaction with other people in the trenches of learning to code.  Here are some places to check for a group that may be a good fit for you.

You will likely find hundreds of group options, both in-person and online, but you need to choose one good fit for you.  No matter what you choose, a support group will likely be a lifesaver as you begin learning to code. 

What you Should Know

Once you decide to begin learning to code and have all of the materials, you may still have a few questions floating around or popping into your mind.  Some things you need to be aware of before you begin are:

Timeline

You may be wondering how quickly you will learn how to code. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great way to put a specific time limit on the amount of time it will take you to learn how to code.  Like anything new, there is a learning curve, and some move through it more quickly than others. 

Typically, you can expect to spend between three and six months learning the basics of coding.  If you devote a tremendous amount of time to coding, you could achieve your goal in a shorter amount of time. On the flip side, if you cannot spend a lot of time learning about coding, you can likely add time to reaching your goal. 

It is important to note this timeline is based on just learning the basics of coding.  This does not mean that you will be ready to begin applying for jobs and tackling large-scale projects.  To reach that goal, you will need more time. 

(Source: Career Karma)

Coding Varies

You must know the process of coding is fluid, which means it is constantly evolving.  Just because you are top-notch in one coding language does not mean that you will be successful with another quickly.  Just like foreign languages, it will take time to learn other coding languages.  

There are some components of the languages that may be similar, but there will also be things that are vastly different.  Because of this, you need to be flexible with learning and understand that when you learn to code, you will constantly be learning and applying new skills. 

(Source: Future Learn)

There are likely many other things that will come to mind as you begin teaching yourself coding, but the timeline is one of the most common things people wonder about.  This is especially true when they are struggling or running into roadblocks. 

Final Thoughts

Teaching yourself to code is not impossible, but it does require a commitment of time.  You cannot rush the coding process and need to make sure you have a strong understanding of the basics to move to more complex thoughts and ideas. Coding can be a great hobby or lucrative career.  Before you begin teaching yourself, make sure you know your end in mind to follow the proper path to get there. 

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