At Startup Institute, we believe that in many ways, learning to code is a lot more like learning a new language than people seem to realize. A major difference is instead of learning a language that will let you speak to someone of a different culture, that "person" is a computer and that "culture" is the software-based environment in which it operates.
Whether you're trying to learn Mandarin or a web application framework like Ruby on Rails, you still need to immerse yourself in the subject matter. You still need to be patient and understand that "slow and steady wins the race." You still need to keep your eyes focused on the end-goal, making sure that every day you get a little bit closer to that inevitable victory.
Whether you want to code as a hobby or to help bolster your career, here are a few key tips that you should keep in mind.
Pick the Right Language
The first step in enabling yourself to learn coding involves making sure you've got a rock-solid foundation from which to grow - that means picking the right language in the first place. Consider exactly WHY you want to learn coding - are you trying to open new doors in your career, get better at your existing one or design your own application? What you're trying to achieve will greatly impact the actual language you need to focus on.
Python, for example, is one of the simplest languages and is a great general-purpose starting point for beginners. Ruby is known for its ease of use and is perfect for just about everything (with the sole exception of designing web pages). C# also comes with its fair share of advantages, as does something like Java. Decide what you want to accomplish and then commit to the language required to do just that.
Learn by Doing
Next, you need to understand that coding is far easier to learn if you practice the fine art of "learning by doing." Get your hands dirty - your education will thank you for it! Don't go through all your reference materials and then try to build a project - build a project as you're going through that material. The sooner you start really playing with the code itself, the faster you're going to truly grasp the given concepts.
Like a new language, one of the most important steps you can take when learning to code involves being as patient as possible. Be patient both with yourself and with the process. There will be times when you have to review concepts multiple times to make sure they really "stick." But patience is absolutely crucial in learning, especially when it comes to absorbing and retaining new information. Practice patience all day, every day and your eventual coding skills will thank you for it.
Play Coding Games
Another great way to help make the process of learning to code easier is also one of the most enjoyable - take advantage of any opportunity you have to turn things into a game. Don't be afraid to compete with yourself (in a healthy way, of course) and try to "game-ify" your learning experience. Breaking lessons down into a series of smaller games not only helps to simplify an "un-simple" hobby like coding, but it's also an exercise to push yourself harder in a fun way.
Get Outside Help
Is learning on your own not quite doing the trick? If all else fails, get help from the professionals - take a coding class in person, or even online! There’s no limit to the number of coding academies out there, so do some research and pick one the one that’s right for YOU.