We’ll take you through some strategies for choosing which coding language to focus on, as well as exploring some of the most popular beginner-friendly coding languages.
When you’re just starting out, there’s a few generic and specific qualities in languages that you’ll want to look out for. Firstly, it’s going to be easiest to pick a language that is beginner friendly, and is designed for ease of use - many languages are designed with this principle in mind. Secondly, it’s a good idea to choose a language that is quite popular, has a strong community behind it, and is used widely by a lot of organisations. Thirdly, choose a language that is well established, that has been around for a while - rather than choosing something that is the latest trend. This will ensure that the language itself is stable, means you’ll be able to find really strong and established learning materials, and that the community is really strong as well.
There will also be specific qualities to consider based on what your goals for coding are. If you’ve got a particular project in mind, you might choose a language based on that. Or, if you’ve got a particular career or other area of interest in mind, you might pick a language based on that. For example, some languages are really suited to data science, some are better suited to web development, some are more about style and others are more about functionality, as you’ll see.
The list below includes a number of different coding languages, and includes markup languages, style languages, query languages, and programming languages. Of these, the programming languages have the steepest learning curves, but are incredibly powerful and versatile for creating complex applications. Read more about each language below to understand its applications and how easy or difficult it is for beginners to learn.
Python is often thought of as one of the most beginner-friendly programming languages - it is incredibly powerful and versatile for experienced programmers, and yet it is still one of the easiest languages to learn.
Python is a general-purpose programming language, which means that it is used to solve a wide variety of problems - from software applications, to video games, to machine learning, robotics, data science and more. Knowledge of Python will make you a competitive candidate on the job market, as its applications are so broad and it integrates with a lot of other languages and platforms.
Python is particularly great for people who like problem solving and abstract thinking; it is widely used in data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, which makes it an excellent language for anyone interested in a career around data. If you’re used to working with spreadsheets and love creating formulas and macros, or if you’ve spent any time working with databases or data sets, Python’s capabilities for automation and data manipulation will take you to the next level.
Released in 1991, Python is very popular - and its popularity is still growing. There is a huge community behind it, especially in the world of data, and many startups and big tech companies utilise Python as part of their software stack. Many full-stack developers have Python in their toolkit, as it is so broadly useful, and is often one of the first languages that career programmers learn. You’ll find a strong community in Python who will have the tools and resources to help your ideas grow.
Python’s developers aim to make Python fun to use - in fact, the language was named after the British comedy group Monty Python.
If you think Python is for you, check out our Python Primer course on the School of Code. In this course we cover the fundamentals of Python which will set you up to be able to build simple applications and have the confidence to move into more specialised fields and get one step closer to landing an internship in the tech industry.
HTML and CSS are technically two languages, but together they form the foundations of web design and development. It’s important to learn these languages in parallel to understand how they interact to create the structure and style of web pages.
HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It was invented by Sir Tim Berners Lee in the late 1980s as a system to link documents together across a network. "Hypertext" refers to links that connect web pages to one another, and “markup” refers to the tags and annotations, which describe the content of a document so it can be displayed by a web browser. HTML is the standard language used to compose text, images, videos and other media into web pages, which can be accessed via a web browser.
HTML becomes really powerful when you pair it with other technologies - like, CSS.
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and it is a style sheet language used for describing the look and feel of a document, or web page (which is written in HTML). It is designed to enable the separation of presentation and content; with CSS you can add layout, colours, and fonts to make your content look a certain way. It’s awesome for designing mobile and responsive layouts, it’s used to create animations, and is a tool to make web pages more accessible so that more people can enjoy them!
HTML and CSS are fun, easy to learn, and are used literally all over the web - so, if you want to build a website or web application, you will need HTML and CSS. They are great coding languages to learn for people who love to bring together design, logic, art, geometry, and creativity.
HTML and CSS are not programming languages, so they’re great if you feel intimidated by the idea of learning to code. With HTML and CSS you can create your first web page in a matter of minutes, which makes it a rewarding and validating learning experience for beginners.
Interested? Check out our Foundations of Web Development course.
It’s a great language for beginners because it’s easy to get up and running without much special software or equipment - all you need is a simple code editor and a web browser. Beginners can quickly learn powerful concepts that are instantly gratifying - like being able to change the colour of a web page element with the click of a button, display images in a rotating image gallery, and more.
Ruby is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that was designed and developed in the mid-1990s in Japan by a developer affectionately known as “Matz”. One of the reasons he chose the name ‘Ruby’ for this language is that it was the birthstone of one of his colleagues. Matz has said that the primary purpose of Ruby is for every programmer in the world to be productive, and to enjoy programming, and to be happy. There is a saying in the Ruby community, that "Matz is nice and so we are nice”.
Ruby looks and reads a lot like English, so it’s an awesome language for beginners because the code is quite easy to understand.
Ruby is the basis for the Ruby on Rails web application framework, which was really popular for web app development in the mid 2000s. Ruby on Rails is a full-stack web framework that makes prototyping really easy. Full-stack means that it covers both frontend and backend, so a single developer can build a full application without needing multiple technologies. Rails is used by a lot of startups, as well as beginners and hobbyists, because you can build web applications from scratch using relatively few lines of code.
Even though JS is overtaking it in popularity, startups are still often hiring for Rails developers, so if you’re interested in a career working in the startup sector, Ruby is a great language to learn. It’s also ideal to learn if you want to work on your own personal web projects, and if you generally have an interest in web development.
SQL, sometimes pronounced ‘Sequel”, stands for ‘structured query language, and is used to access and modify data that is held in databases.
SQL was developed at IBM in the 1970s as a way for IBM to query their own databases. Now, SQL is everywhere - most tech companies use it in some way or another. In fact - any company dealing with data is likely using SQL somewhere in their organisation.
If you’re used to using spreadsheets to manage information, you might find SQL to be very useful, as SQL can handle data pools of any size, whether it’s a few hundred records, or thousands, or millions of records.
It’s quite easy to master the basics with, making it a great beginner language, but it’s also powerful and flexible enough to be used for really complex queries.
Many web applications are connected to a SQL database, so it’s useful to understand the concepts of SQL if you’re working in web development. It's also a really important language to learn if you’re interested in data science, or machine learning, or anything else that requires working with data or large sets of information.
C# (pronounced C sharp)is a hugely popular programming language, loved by developers and employers, for its clever design and extensive features. It’s a language to consider learning if you want to shift your career into software engineering and if you want to sure up your skill-set for the future of work.
C# is a high-level language, and high-level languages are ideal for people who are new to coding. High level languages convert the 1s and 0s of machine code into words, letters and abbreviations that look a lot more like everyday English, which makes the code easy to read and understand. The syntax of C# - that is the structure of the language itself - is very clear and readable whilst still being succinct. C# is short and to the point and laid out very clearly.
Sometimes choosing a coding language comes down to how well it matches your personality, your values, and your creative and career ambitions. C# is a graceful language, every element is considered and has gone through rigorous design and continuous innovation, precision engineered by Microsoft’s world-class teams. C# will appeal to the type of person who likes everything in its place and a place for everything. For those of us who value efficiency and don’t like to waste time and budget, C# allows you to create applications that scale and are easy to maintain over time, without creating unexpected errors and side-effects.
C# has the benefit of alerting developers to errors before a program goes live. With C#, you will save time by finding errors early and often, and it is less likely that you’ll release buggy code to your end users. The development process with C# can be a little slower, but it’s also way more organised and way less risky. In this way it’s quite good for beginners who want to learn to code and build best-practice habits along the way.
C# can be a good beginner language to learn if you’re new to coding, but it is certainly not the easiest. Some languages - like Python - are touted as “better for beginners” because they have an easier learning curve; however, this ease hides some of the power of slightly harder to learn languages like C#. The trade-off of a powerful language like C# is the necessity for discipline. C# requires strict adherence to certain rules. Where other languages are more relaxed, C# doesn’t make allowances for sloppy code. This means it’s a much more strict language, meaning there are more rules to learn and master, but mastering these will instil you with best practices and can make you a better programmer in the long run.
If you’re a total newbie to the world of tech and coding, and if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, C# might be a bit more of a challenge in the learning curve. But if it matches your goals and values and you’re up for the challenge, then it’s a great language that will instil good habits in you from the get-go.
C# is a general purpose programming language, so whatever you’re aiming to create, you can probably do it with C# - everything from desktop applications to websites to mobile apps, machine learning algorithms, AR and VR experiences, and more. As it is incredibly versatile, learning C# will make you a great generalist programmer, and general purpose languages are typically best suited to beginners as there are so many opportunities to follow once you’ve mastered the basics.
Whilst C# is known to be a more complex language, we’ve worked hard to make it accessible in our curriculum design. Check out our Object Oriented Programming with C# online course on the School of Code.
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