Learning to code

By Mark on 20171222 — 1 min read

Learning to pro­gram is like learn­ing to read and write any for­eign lan­guage. Lots of time will be spent look­ing at sym­bols that make lit­tle sense and hear­ing peo­ple speak about the lan­guage in terms that are, while famil­iar, car­ry­ing less mean­ing than per­haps they should. Lots of time will be spent read­ing ref­er­ences with­out con­text, then look­ing at lan­guage in con­text, then back and forth again.

Except, unlike spo­ken lan­guage, there are no trans­la­tions to some lan­guage you already know.

But one day, with­out rea­son, the sym­bols will begin to fit together. Words are rec­og­nized. The mean­ing of state­ments become clearer. Whole para­graphs express sim­ple or com­plex ideas.

At first, in this new stage, some parts are under­stand­able and oth­ers remain opaque. But you’ve learned to use the ref­er­ences bet­ter. You are begin­ning to rec­og­nize that not all the uses of the lan­guage you see are at the same level of cre­ative expression.

Later when you are pro­fi­cient but not yet flu­ent you will rec­og­nize the con­vo­luted and the need­lessly com­plex expres­sions. You will also begin to rec­og­nize the poetry.

You can­not write a movie review in English as well as Roger Ebert did with­out a lot of time using the lan­guage in the way he did. You can­not expect to write mean­ing­ful code until you can see lan­guage as expres­sion of ideas you really understand.


in response to Here’s Why Learning How To Code Is So Hard by Kevin Kononenko

Posted in: Technology