What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

At one level there are some obvious choices if all you want to do is to learn how to program in general, however if what you want to do is to learn how to program for a specific application area such as web sites, games or financial systems then there are some more specific answers.

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What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

A perennial question we are asked is “what is the best programming language to learn?’

At one level there are some obvious choices if all you want to do is to learn how to program in general, however if what you want to do is to learn how to program for a specific application area such as web sites, games or financial systems then there are some more specific answers.

What to consider?

Let's start of however, by considering some of the questions that you might ask of any programming language that you are interested in including:

  • Do I have to pay for it or is it free?
  • What development environments are available for it and are they free?
  • What resources are available (free) online to help me learn.
  • Is the language a low level or high-level language? Lower-level languages tend to be closer to the underlying machine code which is the language of the computer and higher-level languages tend to be more English like with higher level constructs.
  • Is there employment in this language (although this may not be relevant at the moment for you it is still worth considering)?
  • How complex a language is it – in general lower-level programming languages tend to be more complex than higher ones although this is not necessarily a given.

Learning to Program

Let us start off with answering the simplest from of the question “what programming language should I learn to understand computer programming?”.


The most obvious answer to this question is probably Python. Not only is it a language that was designed specifically to teach people to program, but it is also one that is deceptively simple on first sight. It is also free and is very well supported by free IDEs including PyCharm, Visual Studio Code, Spyder and the like. It is widely used in both education and commercially and is very well supported with a wide range of learning resources available from tutorials to online courses, to instructor led courses such as those given by us to books.


Another option at this level is JavaScript. Like Python it is relatively easy to learn, has a wide range of resources available for it, is well supported by IDEs including Visual Studio Code, WebStorm and similar. It is also widely used within both industry and commerce as well as educational establishments.

These are probably your best bets as complete novice starter programming languages.

Be careful here as many people who have a love of a particular language might direct you to their favourite – that's not necessarily wrong but do consider the question at the start of the blog before committing your time and energies to other languages.

What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

Learning to Program for the Web

Now this is a slightly different question. This question is asking what language (or languages) I should learn to help me understand how to program web sites.

There are actually two sides to this question as there are what is known as client side and server-side elements to a web site. That is, there is the code that runs in the user’s browser (referred to client side code) and code that runs on the server (that is code run on a host computer system by the supplier of the web site).

Client side development

For the client side there are three languages you should learn, there are:

  • JavaScript – this is the element of the web that makes web pages dynamic and / or reactive to the user. As it is one of the languages that we suggested above to use to just learn to program, it is therefore a very good starting point for both learning to program and for web site development.
  • HTML – (Hyper Test markup Language). This is exactly a programming language per se as it is used to mark up the contents of a web page so that the browser can understand that one element of the txt is a heading, another a paragraph and another some code that will be run when a button is pressed etc. However, it is key to understanding how web pages are constructed.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). If HTML and JavaScript are the bricks and mortar of a web page then CSS gives the page colour – it is used to style the contents of a web page by adding colours, fonts etc.

Any web developer must understand HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Once you have mastered these there are additional tools that make life easier and can be used to help in the development of a web site. However, they all build on these three elements.

Server Side Development

The server side is a little less standardised. This is because it depends on whether you are coming from a Microsoft world or a Linux world.

On the Microsoft side then C# is the go to language to be considered.

On the Linux side it might be Java or JavaScript.

Java and C# are much more complex languages than JavaScript (although the names are similar). Therefore, it might be better to start with JavaScript but look for a more formal training provision for Java.

Learning to Program for Mobile Devices

What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

There are two primary platforms available for mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets. These are Apple and Android and the languages used on these platforms differ.

Apple Devices – if you want to develop software for Apple devices then you should look at the Swift language. It is more complex than languages such as JavaScript and Python, in part because the applications you write must run within the frameworks provided by the Apple iOS. It is probably not the best first language however if you want to get into mobile app development on iOS then it is the only option.

Android DevicesKotlin is the recommended language for Android development (prior to May 2019 it was Java). Both Java and Kotlin compile to the same runtime executable on Android so either Java or Kotlin can be used to develop Android Apps, however Kotlin is now the preferred language. Again, Kotlin is much more complex than Python or JavaScript and again its partly due to the environment its running in but also the language has more concepts that must be learnt.

Learning to Program for Games

If you are interested in learning to program to write games, you could look at Python and pygame – this combination will allow you to write interesting games on your home computer.

However, if you want to get into the games industry which makes extensive use of tools such as Unity and Unreal Engine.

Unity uses C# and Unreal uses C++. C# is a higher-level programming language much in the way that Java and Kotlin are. However, C++ is lower level than C# and Java although still much higher than assembler which is very low level. As such C++ tends to be a much harder language for a non-programmer to learn. However, if you already have some background in programming, particularly with languages such as C or at the other end of the spectrum Java and C# then you should be able to pick p C++ relatively easily.

What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

Learning to Program for Financial Systems

Whilst a wide range of languages are used within the commercial sector the most beneficial for you to learn are probably:

  • Python
  • C and C++
  • Java and / or C#

Each of the above used for different purposes but are widely deployed within large financial institutions.

What is the Best Programming Language to Learn?

Learning to program for Data Analytics

There are two primary languages used within the data analytics or data science worlds, these are Python and R.

Python is a general-purpose language which we have already said is an ideal first language. However, it can be augmented with additional libraires such as pandas that give it the tools required to perform common data analytics tasks.

R on the other hand is quiet an esoteric language, beloved by mathematicians and statisticians that is quite difficult to learn if you do not have much experience with programming.

Other languages to consider

There are several other languages which you might consider learning for different reasons including:

SQL – this is a language used to access and update data held in a relational database. It is quite different in nature to all of the above languages but is key to how data is held for long periods of time. Almost all applications today will need to store and retrieve data and many of those systems will use a database. SQL is the language used for such activities.

PHP – is another widely used web site development language. It is relatively easy to learn and has a wide range of resources available to support you. It is also used extensively in industry.

TypeScript - is presented as a better JavaScript but this means that there is more to typescript than JavaScript. However, it is used within the world of web site development but may be better as the language to move to once you have learned JavaScript.

Java – this is still one of the big three languages although interest in the language has dropped over the last 5 years a bit. However, it can still be your first programming language it’s just that it is more complicated as a started language than JavaScript or Python.


Which language you choose to get started us up to you, however you could do worse than start off with either Python or JavaScript.

Would you like to know more?

If you found this article interesting you might be interested in some of our Coding Training Courses.

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