‘Hello, World!’ — Does your first programming language matter?
Learning to program is not easy. The first language you learn will undoubtedly be the most difficult, and most learners want to be sure the commitment they’re making is going to pay off. Many worry that choosing the wrong language will limit their future opportunities. As a result, many prospective students want to know whether or not the language they choose to learn matters. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to answer definitively without more clarification. So let’s consider two versions:
1. Does the first language I learn make a difference in my long-term career path?
If you’re planning on making a career out of programming, the short answer is: no. It doesn’t matter what language you learn first. The programming landscape is in constant flux. Existing languages are evolving all the time, and new languages emerge relatively frequently. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that the first language you learn will carry you through an entire career, so whatever language you choose will have almost no bearing on your long-term career opportunities.
One of the most important qualities that a developer can have is the ability to adapt existing knowledge to new, previously unsolved problems.
2. Does the first language I learn affect my short-term learning outcomes?
This isn’t to say that you should avoid learning a more syntactically difficult language down the road, just that you’ll make your life a heck of a lot easier if you learn the basics of programmatic logic with a language that functions closer to the way you already speak/write.
It’s easy to see that there’s a lot of value in developing a proficiency in more than one language early in your programming education. The popularity of programming languages changes all the time, and being able to separate syntax from conceptual underpinnings will allow you to change along with them.
In the world of strength training, there’s a concept known as “High Intensity Interval Training.” Essentially, the thought process is that constantly changing the intensity and type of exercise you do builds strength much more rapidly than predictable routine. We take a similar approach to our curriculum.
Graduates of the program are equipped with a some of the most in-demand languages and frameworks in the job market, but we see that as simply a natural outcome of a curriculum that is designed to build programming skills that will be valuable long after today’s popular languages fade away and are replaced by whatever comes next.