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Our team of instructors is frequently asked: “What programming languages should I learn?” and the response is often: “There's no one correct answer, but there is somewhat of a progression that most programmers and developers take. Start with the basics, and slowly move into the more detailed programming languages.”

So what is a programming language? It's a unique language programmers use to develop software programs, scripts, or other sets of instructions for computers to execute in simple terms.

Programming languages are not the same as Markup languages, designed for the definition and presentation of text. The programming language specifies code for formatting both the layout and style within a text file. HTML is an example of a widely-used markup language. On the same note, CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is not a programming language either, but rather a style sheet language. Both vital in development, just not programming languages.

There are many opinions out there about what programming languages are the best, but there's a lot more to consider than the most popular programming language. Below is a list of seven programming languages that are recommended for beginners.


1. Java

Java is over 20 years old, used by millions of developers and billions of devices worldwide, and can run on any hardware and operating system through the Java Virtual Machine. All Android apps are based on Java, and 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Java as a server-side language for back-end development.

Java is a class-based, object-oriented programming language that’s built for portability and cross-platform application. A lot of Java syntax is based on C or C++, so it’s often introduced at a later stage to developers; however, it allows a learner to think like a programmer and understand how a PC processes information. Many educators believe that learning Java ensures a solid foundation.

2. Python

Python is a general-purpose programming language used for web development and as a support language for software developers. It’s also widely used in scientific computing, data mining, and machine learning. The continued growth and demand for machine learning developers may be driving the popularity of Python.

Python is regarded as one of the best and most straightforward programming languages for beginners. It’s a free and open-source language known for its dynamic, flexible, object-oriented, procedural, and functional programming styles. With its simple and readable code, the programmers can express concepts in lesser lines of code. Today, it has become one of the most popular introductory programming languages in American schools.

3. JavaScript

Not to be confused with JavaScript, Java is primarily a client-side scripting language used for front-end development. JavaScript’s syntax is similar to C, and due to its cross-platform nature, it’s a widely popular programming language that’s easy to learn. All web browsers support it. JavaScript is used often through libraries like JQuery and frameworks like React and AngularJS.

JavaScript is used by over 80% of developers and by 95% of all websites for any dynamic logic on their pages. Several front-end frameworks for JavaScript, such as React and AngularJS, have huge future potential as IoT and mobile devices become more popular, so we doubt we’ll see JavaScript drop in popularity anytime soon.

4. C++

C and C++ programming languages have been around for a very long time. C is still a popular general-purpose programming language that has influenced many other modern programming languages, including C++. C, C++ is a powerful programming language designed to take things one step further, and it offers object-oriented programming. It has established itself as one of the most essential programming languages around. Just like C, C++ helps you gain an insight into how things work in computer science.

C++ is usually used for system/application software, game development, drivers, client-server applications, and embedded firmware. Many programmers find C++ complex and more challenging to learn and use than Python or JavaScript, but it remains in use in many legacy systems at large enterprises.

5. C#

C# (pronounced “C sharp”) is an object-oriented programming language from Microsoft designed to run on Microsoft’s .NET platform and make development quicker and easier than Microsoft’s previous languages. C#, like C++, is heavily used in video game development, so any aspiring video game developers would do well to learn both of them. C# programming is based on C and C++ programming languages, so if you have a basic understanding of C or C++ programming, it will be fun to learn C#.

6. PHP

PHP is the most popular server-side programming language in the world. It’s used as the foundation of Content Management Systems for WordPress and other websites like Wikipedia and Facebook. PHP is considered to be beginner-friendly since it’s easy to conceptualize what the PHP code will do. Most websites have been built with PHP because the language is heavily specialized for the web.

PHP is a fully functioning programming language that users can apply to create websites and maintain scripts. In addition to server-side scripting, PHP can perform other tasks such as command-line scripting, developing desktop operations, creating templates and graphics, and many more. While PHP is relatively simple to grasp, it can actually be used in many complicated processes. Users also enjoy the flexibility of using any major operating system, as PHP applies to all of them. This also means that you can choose to work with object-oriented programming or procedural programming with PHP, or even a combination of the two. Basically, PHP is a versatile computer language that gives you a wide range of programming capabilities.

7. Ruby

Ruby, a dynamic, general-purpose language, was designed and developed by Yukihiro Matsumoto in the 1990s, focusing on the syntax that was easy to read by humans. This language supports multiple programming paradigms, including object-oriented, functional, and imperative. This feature makes it a very flexible programming language.

Just like Python, Ruby is simple and readable. As a result, it’s regarded as one of the easiest programming languages to learn. Just like Python, Ruby also enjoys the love of its dedicated community. Ruby acts as a great tool if you need to deal with the back-end aspect of your work. It’s widely used to develop websites, web-based applications, and mobile applications.

Honorable Mention: R

Although sometimes thought to have a bit of a learning curve, R is a programming language and environment commonly used in statistical computing, data analytics, and scientific research. Open-source and freely available, it is one of the most popular languages used by statisticians, data analysts, researchers, and marketers to retrieve, clean, analyze, visualize, and present data. Due to its expressive syntax and easy-to-use interface, it has recently grown in popularity. R is the right mix of simplicity and power, and companies worldwide use it to make calculated decisions.

R is the most popular programming language among statisticians. In fact, it was initially built by statisticians for statisticians. Additionally, R has found a lot of use in predictive analytics and Machine Learning (ML). R is often used to implement ML algorithms in finance, genetics research, retail, marketing, and health care.

Some Closing Thoughts

Over the evolution of computers, hundreds of different computer programming languages were created for various types of development. To get an idea of all of the different programming languages, you can visit The Hello World Collection, which gives a demo of writing "Hello World" in over 566 different programming languages! Ultimately, what programming language you decide to learn will depend on what you want to do.