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Discussion on: "Learn at least one new language every year" is bad advice

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eljayadobe profile image
Eljay-Adobe

I enjoy learning a language every year. And I've been doing it long before The Pragmatic Programmer came out. Is it for everyone? No, of course not.

The majority of programmers I know have learned one programming language really well. Perhaps touched a little bit on others, but not enough to put on a résumé.

But this notion "Learn at least one new language every year or you're not a good programmer" is bogus. I entirely agree with Blaine on point!

I would not suggest that a new programmer should learn a new language every year.

For a new programmer, I'd recommend learning one language well (5+ years in it). Preferably, one that you can leverage to get a job and make money.

What languages can help you be gainfully employed? JavaScript, SQL, C#, C++, Swift, Objective-C, C, COBOL, or Java come to mind. (Yes, COBOL. Lot of companies still use COBOL, and their programming workforce is thinning out as their programmers retire.)

When to learn a new programming language?

  • for fun! because you find learning new languages enjoyable
  • for work! because someone decided to use a language you don't know yet
  • for education! because you have to, in order to graduate and get your diploma
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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk Author

Very good advice. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

"Learn at least one new language every year or you're not a good programmer"

I once overheard someone talking about how they know 60 programming languages and it was definitely with the implied and therefore I'm a super impressive programmer. Which might be true but he came off as an arrogant asshole.

I'm not sure I could name 60 programming languages.

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cooperfle profile image
Cooper F Le

C, C+, C++, C+++, C++++, C+++++, C++++++, . . ., C+N

Nailed it.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Perl, Ruby, Opal, Crystal... Quarts? Zircon? Jade?

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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk Author

html, xhtml, xml, yaml, -> they all have language right in the name!

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mtso profile image
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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk Author

It's crazy how many of them there are.

I was talking to my wife about this post and she said something along the lines of there being only a few programming languages. When I told her that there are at least several hundred languages in use with 30 or so making up the vast majority of the code, she got that 'programmers are crazy' look in her eye.

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eljayadobe profile image
Eljay-Adobe

Good safety tip! Something I need to take to heart, lest I fall into the same category.