Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Yourself Programming

Learning to program requires learning a new language. Now, that doesn’t mean you will have to dust off your old Spanish textbook, pick up Swahili or memorize the roughly 3,000 to 4,000 characters needed to be literate in Mandarin Chinese. Instead, it will require a programming language, such as C++, PHP, Swift or Python.

Just like learning a new spoken language, learning a programming language can often come with some difficulty. There’s the beginner’s adjustment period where they’re starting from scratch to learn the basics of their new language, often stumbling along the way. Then, of course, there is the dreaded plateau period that afflicts more intermediate to advanced students who don’t seem to be able to use the language naturally or smoothly, but may know a lot of vocabulary. In the programming world, the same is also true and there are some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid. We’ll look at the two most common mistakes and some self taught programming tips below:

Mistake 1. Not Learning from your Mistakes

How Ironic! The first mistake involves your mistakes. Well, it’s true for both learning programming languages as well as learning Chinese. In fact, it really is a pretty universal mistake covering all subjects. The fear of even making a mistake let alone being in the right frame of mind to learn from it, is what holds a lot of people back from learning new things. In this case of coding, you’ll want to stay on top of your mistakes when learning programming as much as possible. Mistakes are easy to make when the code is case sensitive. You’ll want to watch out for capitals where they should be lowercase or the dread O vs 0. That’s the letter verses the number, in case that wasn’t clear enough. So you’ll want to check your work often to make sure it’s working instead of having to sort through it all at the end of hours and hours of hard work. You’ll also want to learn from your mistakes. Plenty of developers and programmers have written bad code. If you refuse to address that and correct it, you’ll waste a lot of time and energy and may even be looking for another job. Learning to correct and learn from your mistakes can become a real asset to your programming skills and when you’re just starting out learning, not being afraid to make the mistakes in the first place can really boost your learning and progress in coding.

Mistake 2. Expecting Fluency

Fluency is a debated term among language learners and linguists. What does it even mean? Is the traveler who gets by without hardly any trouble at all, but couldn’t read a newspaper to save their life, fluent? Is that person’s opposite, a scholar who can read 10,000 Chinese characters, but can’t order takeout,? Expecting to be perfect or to reach an end goal of never learning again after that is a common hindrance in learning anything, especially languages. Such is the case again with programming languages. Expecting to reach a point where you will be effectively fluent or perfect in a programming language will lead to wasted time and ultimately disappointment. There will always be new developments and emerging technologies. There are trends in this industry that can come on as quick as they fade away and what you know now may become obsolete in the near future. You want to foster a love of learning and you’ll want to make it a lifetime endeavor, as well. When you’re just starting out, you can easily fall into the trap of studying or reading more than you’re actually living in these languages and having hands on experiences. You want to live in these languages and with programming that means starting to code from he beginning. This is how you will learn by doing and making mistakes and learning from hem. Starting out, it’s just as easy to feel like an imposter and that can prevent you from seeking a place in the programming community for yourself. You’ll want to reach out, though, as this can lead to opportunities and help you progress in your learning much faster than if you stay solo on this learning journey.

Learning and making mistakes is a part of life. They go hand in hand and it is their very symbiotic relationship that is what leads to the fastest and most efficient learning. We all know someone who took Spanish in High School and can’t even pronounce Chile Relleno, let alone order it at a Mexican restaurant. We may very well be that someone, but it doesn’t have to be that way, if we are willing to accept our mistakes and learn from them and push past them. To code with ease you want to dive in and learn from those mistakes and you want to set yourself up for success by having the right expectations and learn to live in these programming languages.