Learning to program in python is a worthwhile pursuit in 2021. As we have explored here, there are many beneficial reasons and some great career prospects for Python engineers.
There are also lots of online courses available, many of which are very affordable. (Check out our current favorites on Udemy here).
However, let’s assume you already know this and have just signed up for a Python course online.
What can you do to ensure that you get the most out of the course and learn in an efficient and productive way?
Most of all, how can you approach your learning so that you can retain the knowledge for practical application?
That’s exactly what I will explore right now, with these top tips.
1. Write it Down
An online course in Python will be predominantly conducted via your laptop. There will be video lessons, web page materials, and of course coding exercises to do.
However, as thoroughly digital as the learning might be, we also recommend that you have a pen and paper nearby and write down your notes.
A ton of research suggests that spending time to take notes by hand does assist in long-term retention.
Not only should you write notes based on the learning materials (which will help for future revision), you should also write notes when you plan your coding exercises.
Jotting down concepts and figuring out what functions and classes you might use is great prep work.
You will also have a better idea of where you want the project to go (and the pathway to get there); which will save you time and potential dead-ends when it comes to writing the actual code.
Furthermore, many interviews for programming jobs involve writing code on a whiteboard. If you are used to doing this from the moment you start learning Python, such exercises will come naturally to you.
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2. Code Everyday
To ensure that information is retained, it is a good idea to code every day while you are learning.
This will help prevent backward steps and time spent bringing yourself up to previous levels of speed.
Muscle memory even plays a part in programming. Just like learning an instrument, this new language will eventually rely on your fingers automatically flowing across the keyboard as the code flows from you.
This is the zone that all programmers want to reach, and the quicker your brain to muscle path memory can achieve efficient levels of coding, the better you will be.
The short Python coding exercises provided in your course will be good ways to practice this.
Try to reserve at least 25 minutes each day so that your learning and practice are regular and consistent.
3. Converse and practice with like-minded people
While an online Python course will not bring you face to face with other beginner coders, there are plenty of opportunities to discuss and learn with others, especially Python beginners as the language is so popular right now.
Join coding forums or collaborative coding platforms such as PythonistaCafe, where you can experiment with your code, ask questions, join discussions, and basically communicate with others that have varying degrees of Python experience.
These sorts of environments are excellent for the beginner. That not only serves to assist you in your studies but will also motivate and encourage you.
Coding does not have to be that stereotypically lonely pursuit, with you locked in front of a computer screen.
In fact, it is even possible to meet up with others if local coding events and meetups are organized in your area.
4. Practice your Bug Hunting
Bugs in your code are inevitable, no matter what level you are at.
Hunting down bugs and understanding why your code isn’t working, is one of the best ways to learn as a beginner.
It forces you to evaluate issues while also making you come up with solutions.
As the old adage goes, you do learn from your mistakes.
It is important that you don’t let bugs frustrate or discourage you. See them as an opportunity as we just described.
Furthermore, learning to recognize bugs at this early stage will also help you if you decide to pursue Python programming as a career.
As we say, bugs are inevitable, your efficiency in rectifying them is what will make you a great programmer.
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5. Build an Application (However big or small)
Theory into practice is the only way you will learn Python to a level that can lead to a future career as an engineer.
This means you need to start building.
The great thing with Python is that can be done relatively early on in the learning process.
Once you have an understanding of basic data structures (strings, lists, dictionaries, sets, etc), and writing classes, you should be able to jump in and create a small application.
Not only will this help you see the practical application of your learning, but the mistakes and hurdles along the way will also help you develop your skills in the language.
There are a number of small programs you can build; a calculator, dice roll simulator, stock notification app are some great examples.
And there you have it, our 5 tips on how to learn Python in a way that will help you cruise through the courses and end up programming for a living.