Stop Learning These Programming Languages as a Beginner

Coding

There are hundreds of videos on youtube about top programming languages to learn. But only so many videos tell you the languages you should avoid as a beginner.

Learning programming by picking the wrong language is like using a hammer for a screw. It might work in the end, but there will be a lot of damage in the process.

For a new programmer, this damage might look like difficulty in making progress, demotivation, and inability to find a job even after learning to code.

When I started my programming journey, I also made this mistake and got rejected by hundreds of companies.

In this article, we will talk about 5 programming languages that might need to give you better value for your time. At the end of the Article, I will also tell you about a few programming languages I recommend. Let’s do this.

Coding

5. C++

At number 5, we have C++, a language many colleges and universities teach. Before you start writing that hate comment, hear me out first.

Every language I cover today has its advantages, and there are situations in which you should learn them. I will cover those specific cases for all the languages, including C++, in a moment.

But we can talk about that, and we need to understand why some people recommend C++ as your first language. Most of the time, their argument for C++ would be, “You should learn C++ to know how a computer works.”

And they are partly right because C++ offers low-level capabilities like memory management, etc. But this argument is no different than saying, “You need to know how a car’s engine works to learn how to drive.”

Indeed, there is a benefit to knowing the inner workings of an engine in case your car breaks down, but it’s not a requirement. The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. I believe C++ is unnecessarily complex and harder to learn than most popular languages.

And I say this as someone who codes in C++ in my day job as a Software Engineer at Google. So, I would recommend something other than C++ as a first language to beginners. Now, there are circumstances in which you might want to learn C++. If you want to do game development using the Unreal engine or you want to do competitive programming, you should pick C++ because it’s faster than other popular options. If you are not that particular and want to make fast progress, stay away from C++.

4. C

At number 4, we have C++–, the C language. I know that C is the mother of all languages because most modern languages like C++, Java, Python, and Javascript are all based on C. The first course on programming that I ever attended was in C language.

But I never mentioned it in my programming journey because it had no impact. That’s because C is a low-level procedural language used for system applications.

This means that unlike other programming languages currently in demand, C is not an Object Oriented programming language. That’s why it lacks many features like Polymorphism, Encapsulation, and Inheritance.

If you don’t know what that means, that’s fine. You need to know that if a company is looking for a Software Engineer who can program in “Java, C++, Python, or any similar language,” C does not fall in the category of similar languages.

So, you will have a great disadvantage when looking for a job. Now, some jobs require C programmers.

These would include Operating Systems and Embedded systems-related jobs that are low in demand. So, I would pick something other than C as my first language.

3. PHP

At number 3, we have one of the most popular languages, PHP. PHP could be a better first language for a couple of reasons.

1) many other alternatives, like Node or Python, are better than PHP.

2) PHP is rapidly declining in popularity. Yes, there are millions of websites that currently use PHP. One of the reasons for this is the fact that content management systems like WordPress use PHP.

3) Since WordPress is so popular, millions of people who don’t know coding use WordPress to make their websites. This artificially inflates the total number of websites that use PHP. Looking at this graph from Google Trends, you can see that PHP’s popularity is declining.

I have also added Python and Javascript to the same graph for comparison. Most of the companies that use PHP in the backend are from the early 2000s, and I don’t see why a company starting in 2023 would use PHP in the backend. Here are some popular companies that use PHP in the backend.

Technically speaking, Facebook uses Hack, which is not precisely PHP but their own better version of PHP. Unless you are hell-bent on working at one of these companies and they demand that you need to know PHP to interview, I would not learn PHP.

2. SQL

Before I tell you why you should not learn the most popular programming language of our time and what you should learn instead, let’s quickly talk about the number 2 language on our list.

And that is SQL, and there are a few reasons for that. SQL is not a general-purpose programming language. SQL is only used for creating, reading, or updating the data stored in a database.

That’s why there is nothing that you can build just with SQL. As a beginner, you will not be working with databases anyway. So, learn a general-purpose programming language first, and then when you need to hook databases to your website, you can learn SQL.

1. JavaScript

Java Script Programming Language

And this brings us to the number 1 language on the list, and that is JavaScript. Now this one is a little tricky because there are some people for whom Javascript is the wrong choice and others for whom Javascript is the only right choice. Let me explain what I mean by this.

Most beginners who try to learn Javascript do it because they want to do front-end development. In case you don’t know, front-end development means writing code that decides how a website looks and behaves.

Most people think they will learn Javascript, HTML, CSS, and voila! They are done. It’s rare to find modern websites that use just these 3 languages.

Usually, you will have to learn a CSS framework like Bootstrap or Tailwind on top of CSS. It would help if you learned a framework or library like Angular or React for Javascript.

Depending on what you are building, you might have to learn additional technologies like Next or Redux. As you can see, this path is very long and needs to be clarified for a beginner.

On the other hand, front-end development is very high in demand, and to get a job as a front-end developer, you might not have to go through Algorithmic style interviews that require a good knowledge of Math which makes it easier to find a job if you don’t have a degree in STEM.

So, if you can not stay motivated for a long time and need clarification, there are better choices than learning Javascript. But if you don’t want to go through these algorithmic style interviews, learning Javascript and all these other technologies might be your best choice.

There are other better alternatives to most of the languages we covered today. I recommend 3 paths to go from zero to a full-time developer. These 3 paths, and all the free resources you will need at every step, are available in this video I made a few months ago.

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