What Programming Language Should You Learn First?

One of the hardest questions you’ll ask when you start tackling programming is, what language should I learn first. Let’s talk through some of the concerns that you might have.

It feels like if you choose a language that you’re making a final decision about what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. That’s normal.

Some people have successful careers with one programming language. Also, most developers know several different languages and many change their focus until they find the right one for them.

Whatever language you start with it does not have to be the only language you ever learn. Expect to learn many different programming languages.

Programming languages seem very different from each other while syntax or rules can vary between programming languages. Each language was developed to solve unique problems. All of them share some common concepts. So, by learning one language will make it easier to learn the next programming language.

And as you pick your next programming language, you’ll learn more about that first programming language that you probably miss the first time through.

What if you pick the wrong language? Some languages are harder to learn than others especially if it’s your first. However, every language has been someone’s first and they’ve been through the same issues that you’re experiencing.

If you feel like you’ve picked the wrong language you may have picked one with syntax that is too verbose but you may also be experiencing a challenge when you start learning a new language. You’re going to learn a lot and if you’re following a good tutorial it should even be fun.

But after you learn the basic concepts of something you may find that the next concepts are more challenging. Well, you may want to give up but that’s when you’ll want to work even harder. Push through your confusion, take good notes.

Learn as much as you can by pushing yourself. You’ll find that you can learn anything. Here are the main modern programming languages that you’ll likely be considering.


People often begin by learning HTML and CSS. Why? Well, these two languages are essential for creating static or unchanging web pages. Everything on the web uses HTML and CSS to some degree. From simple web sites to huge and complex applications.

HTML or hypertext markup language structures all the text, links and other content like images and videos on website.

CSS or cascading style sheets is the language that makes the web page look the way that it does. The colors, the layout and other visuals. If you’re interested in making websites you’ll definitely want to start with HTML and CSS.


JavaScript is the first programming language for many people. It’s the next logical step after learning HTML and CSS.

JavaScript started out as a simple web programming language intended to add a few interactive features to web sites, however, it’s grown into a powerful programming language used on nearly every web site in the world.

You can use JavaScript to add interesting effects like a lightbox or a cool scrolling effect. It’s even used in projects outside of web browsers like hardware or desktop applications. Learning JavaScript will put you in a good place as it’s a general-purpose language.


PHP is one of the most popular web languages. It’s also one of the first accessible programming languages designed for manipulating information on websites. PHP started out in 1994 as personal homepage.

Its tools were built by Rasmus Lerdorf to add basic interactivity to his personal website. Then in 1995 PHP tools was released to the world and other developers learned about it and started using it. Two programmers really liked PHP and collaborated with Rasmus to develop a new independent programming language called PHP hypertext preprocessor.

If you used Wikipedia or Facebook you’ve used the site powered by PHP. Almost 27 percent of the web is built with PHP. People love PHP because it allows you to add dynamic information to websites very easily.

It’s also great at manipulating databases so that you can access and store information about users and your application data.


Python is a general-purpose language that is used for everything from server automation to data science. You might be thinking that Python is named after the snake but it’s actually named after the British comedy group Monty Python.

Thanks to this, Python has a long history of not taking itself too seriously. Python is a great language for beginners because it’s easy to read and understand. Anything you want to do you can do it with python.

It’s a language that you can stick with for quite a while before needing something else. It employs a battery included approach and there are many great solutions available for you to follow.

Instagram for example was created with python, the use government uses python to do statistical analysis and visualizations, Disney Pixar and Lucasfilm use Python to add more realistic effects in their movies.

Big websites like YouTube, Instagram and Reddit use Python.


Ruby is often associated with the rails framework that helped popularize it. It was created in the mid-90s by Yukihiro Matsumoto. It’s used widely among web startups. Ruby on Rails makes it easy to transform an idea into a prototype and later into a working application.

As a result many tech startups and programmers use Ruby to build the early versions of their applications. Sites like Hulu, Basecamp and Airbnd use Ruby on Rails.

Objective C and Swift

Objective C and Swift are two languages that are used for the same purpose, making apps for Apple devices like the iPhone or the iPad.

Objective C can be a bit verbose and challenging to learn but it is very rewarding because you’ll be able to make apps for any Apple device.

Swift is the most recent app creating language that is recommended for newer Apple developers since it is intentionally easier to read and get you up and running first.


C-sharp was created by Microsoft, however, just because it was created by Microsoft it doesn’t mean that the c-sharp language can only be used for Windows applications. C-sharp is a general-purpose programming language that is used for video games with the unity game engine, writing web servers, mobile applications and asp.net.

One of the goals the designers of c-sharp had was to create a programming language that was less prone to errors. That means it’s harder to write software that will crash when it runs. This helps you to avoid all sorts of headaches and makes coding a lot more fun.

Java / Kotlin

First, Java is not related to JavaScript. Java is used to power web applications like Amazon and Gmail. In admission critical enterprise applications like banks and hospitals. It also powers Android apps so it’s a good choice for those inclined to mobile development.

Kotlin is easier to read and more code efficient version of Java that was created by JetBrains in 2011. However, you will want to learn Java first before you can truly understand and take advantage of the coding simplicity that Kotlin offers.

So, which one do I choose?

Well, plenty of people will gladly tell you exactly what language to learn. Here are a few considerations. What do you want to do? If you’re interested in working for a specific company, you’ll want to take a look at their job boards.

They will list specific requirements. Don’t worry if you don’t meet any of them, this will give you an idea of the direction that you’re heading.

What do you want to build? This is one of the most challenging questions to answer. If you have an idea for a project you to create it kind of gives you a head start.

By knowing what you want to make solves the what programming language should I learn first question because the language is just a tool to get you where you want to go.

If you don’t know what you want to make check out Github Karan projects. It has a list of projects that can be completed in any language. Treat them like puzzles and start with the easiest ones.

Once you select the language, you’ll discover that there are tons of resources for learning it. You want to immerse yourself in the language and take it all in but the most important thing is that you’ve decided to learn to code.

Congratulations. That’s a huge step and if you’ve made it this far, I can tell you something, you’re going to love it. Remember coding is fun and therefore learning to code should be fun.


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