Gaining a new skill can be intimidating, especially when you’re an adult learner. You may be rusty because you’ve been away from education for a while, or you may have had an unpleasant previous experience… Whatever the reason, the thought of going back to school and learning as an adult can make you want to run the other direction.
Here are four tips to help you successfully learn coding and begin working toward a new career.
1. Get Your Hands Dirty (so to speak)
Learning is about truly understanding a concept, but many times we reduce it simply to memorization. In the past, you may have been asked to memorize and then spit out information without thinking critically or applying the information— not so in learning to code.
Coding is all about developing and applying a skill. While there are rules, how you apply them is often up to you. Software development consists of working to creatively solve problems by using your working knowledge of a programming language. Don’t just memorize the rules. In this field, you’ll want to practice, practice, and continue to practice the skills you are learning until you’re comfortable with the basics of any new programming language.
2. Go Out and Play
Who didn’t love recess? In learning coding, you’re encouraged to play! Experiment with lines of code, and never be afraid to ask, “What would happen if I…?” The answer will always be, “Try it and see.”
You will never truly learn to code without testing how functions work together with other functions. To truly learn coding, you’ll need to learn to color outside the lines you’re used to and form a new picture.
3. Stop Fearing Failure
Do you want to know a secret? A lot of coding, even for expert developers, involves trial and error. There will be failure and that’s ok. There will also be success!
To get the most out of you education, you must be comfortable with messing up from time to time. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It simply means you need to try something else until you find the right combination to make it work. The only way to truly fail, is to quit.
4. Learn the Art of Rubber Ducking
Have you ever found the answer to a problem by articulating each of its pieces out loud? If so, you’re beginning to understand rubber ducking. The term is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug code by forcing himself to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck. Sometimes all you need is a sounding board (even if it is a literal rubber duck) to help you find the answer.
The most important part of being a good coder is being persistent. If you follow these four tips and apply yourself to learning a new programming language, we know you’ll find success. You might even have a little fun too!