Learning to code can be a difficult task. Like learning any new language, it requires new ways of thinking, time, effort, dedication, and most of all perseverance.
The curriculum experts at Codecademy, the largest online resource for improving computer science literacy and computer programming skills, have helped more than 45 million people from 190 countries teach themselves to code and have seen some of the biggest mistakes people make that have held them back from those “aha” moments.
Codecademy has put together a shortlist of the most common mistakes their learners make and provided some insights on how to avoid them.
1. NOT USING INTERACTIVE METHODS
Most people learn best by doing because it helps to cement and contextualize what they are learning and apply it to the real world. At first, coding can feel unnatural, even clunky. Interactive learning tools allow you to learn alongside experts, giving you the practice you need to raise your confidence and the insight into the process that can only come from doing it yourself.
2. NOT RECEIVING TIMELY FEEDBACK
Feedback is one of the most important aspects of learning. It allows you to see the ways in which you’ve made an error and immediately discover an effective way to remedy your mistake. Too many people think they have to go it alone when learning to code and miss out on the motivation good, honest feedback can have on growth.
3. ATTEMPTING TO MEMORIZE CODE
Learning to code is a lot like learning a new language. But you would never learn a new language simply by memorizing words. They quickly lose their meaning when not in the context of how they are used, making having a conversation impossible. Focus on finding the meaning behind the code you’re learning rather than memorizing it. It will create pathways of understanding that will lead to a faster and more thorough grasp of the material.
4. AVOIDING ERRORS AT ALL COSTS
We learn more from our failures than our successes and with coding, it is no different. Don’t feel discouraged when you see that little red error message because it shows that you’re making progress. Here’s a little secret: programmers love to see their errors. They help them troubleshoot their problems and discover their own ways of solving them.
5. GIVING UP JUST BEFORE A BREAKTHROUGH
This is probably the most easily avoidable, yet fatal mistake. Too often, learners give up on coding just before having that “aha” moment where it all just clicks. As we’ve mentioned before, coding isn’t natural at first. You have to train your brain to understand how this new language works, which requires patience and determination. But once you get it, you can build anything.