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Cherlock Code 🔎
Cherlock Code 🔎

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🦾 How To Use ChatGPT for Learning to Code (With Examples)

A beginner’s guide to using ChatGPT to help with learning how to code.

If you haven’t tried ChatGPT yet, you’re either too scared 😱 or completely disinterested 😒.

If you’re anything other than the latter and you’re learning to code or are new to coding, then this article could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Like many, I’ve been fascinated with ChatGPT and AI technology ever since it was released, and now I find I use it every day - pretty much just like I use the internet.

I’m especially in awe of how ChatGPT can be used to assist developers, from writing code to debugging, and code explanations, it’s certainly enhanced the way I develop software and has improved my workflow immensely.

As ever-growing devs, anything that can improve our learning journeys and make things easier to grasp is definitely worth exploring to the fullest.

That’s why I’d like to share some tips and prompts for using ChatGPT while learning to code.

But before I do, let’s have a very brief overview of ChatGPT and the role it can play in interactive learning:

ChatGPT in a Nutshell 🥜

ChatGPT (short for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an advanced natural language processing model developed by OpenAI.

At its core, ChatGPT is a machine-learning model that can comprehend and generate human-like text based on the data it's been trained on.

Unlike simpler chatbots that are hard-coded with specific responses, ChatGPT uses the patterns it has learned to engage in more nuanced and informative interactions.

The significance of ChatGPT in the coding learning process is becoming unparalleled, offering interactive and personalised assistance that can make the journey from coding newbie to expert faster and more engaging than ever before.

ChatGPT is like having a friendly coding buddy who's always up for a chat 🤖.

The Power of Interactive Learning with ChatGPT 👩‍💻

Interactive learning is a form of education that emphasises active participation, engagement, and dynamic feedback.

Rather than passively reading or listening to static content, interactive learning allows you to have a dialogue and ask clarifying questions in real time.

Research shows that this type of social, conversational learning boosts information retention and deeper understanding.

The reason interactive methods are so effective is that they mimic the back-and-forth of human tutoring sessions.

Having an instructor who can adapt explanations based on your understanding gaps and provide tailored examples is hugely beneficial.

This is exactly why learning through an AI system like ChatGPT has incredible advantages compared to traditional coding education methods.

ChatGPT allows you to have a personalised dialogue where you control the pace and questions.

The AI continuously tailors its responses based on your needs, mimicking a human tutor.

While independent learning has its place, the interactive nature of prompting ChatGPT creates a feedback loop that can speed up progress.

Being able to clarify concepts in real time with customised examples is a game-changer.

Now let’s see how this could work for you.

Using ChatGPT for Learning to Code 🤖

Let's look at some examples of using ChatGPT to boost up your coding skills.

With the right prompts, you can tap into ChatGPT's expansive programming knowledge to customise your learning journey:

#1 - Code Explanations

ChatGPT can break down complex programming concepts into easy-to-understand language.

Whether you're trying to grasp the basics of loops or unravel the mysteries of recursion, you can ask for explanations that simplify these ideas for you.

Example prompts:

"Can you explain what a 'for' loop is in programming?"

"What is the difference between '==' and '===' in JavaScript?"

"How do function closures work in Python?"

"Can you explain object-oriented programming (OOP) principles?"

"What is async/await in JavaScript and why is it useful?"

These prompts are designed to extract in-depth explanations that help clarify coding concepts, making them more accessible and understandable.

#2 - Debugging Tips

Stuck on an error message you can't decode?

ChatGPT can help you understand common error messages and guide you through the debugging process.

While it can't execute code, it can often point you in the right direction to solve issues.

Example prompts:

"I keep getting a 'NullReferenceException' in C#. What does it mean and how can I fix it?"

"My JavaScript code is stuck in an infinite loop. How can I identify and break it?"

"Why do I get a 'Cross-Origin Request Blocked' error in my web application?"

"Why am I encountering an 'IndentationError' in Python?"

"What is a 'Segmentation Fault' in C and how do I debug it?"

These prompts aim to not just solve the immediate issue but also educate you on the underlying concept, enhancing your debugging skills for future challenges.

#3 - Practice Exercises

If you're looking to reinforce your learning, ChatGPT can generate coding exercises tailored to your skill level.

These exercises can range from simple tasks like reversing a string to more complex challenges like building a basic web app.

Example prompts:

"Can you give me a beginner-level exercise to practice Python loops?"

"I want to improve my skills in SQL queries. Can you provide an intermediate-level exercise?"

"Please give me an exercise to practice HTML and CSS layout techniques."

"I'd like to practice recursion in Java. Can you provide an exercise?"

"Can you give me an exercise to practice using RESTful APIs in JavaScript?"

The key to mastering programming is consistent practice. These prompts can help you maintain that practice, whilst keeping up with your current level and interests.

#4 - Code Review and Feedback

Got a piece of code but not sure if it's up to scratch?

ChatGPT can give you a quick review and provide suggestions on how to improve code quality, optimise it for performance, or make it more readable.

Example prompts:

"I wrote a Python function to find the factorial of a number. Can you review it for efficiency and readability?"

"I've written some JavaScript code for a basic to-do list app. Can you check if it follows best practices?"

"I've implemented a sorting algorithm in C++. Can you review it for any potential errors or optimisations?"

"I've written SQL queries for database manipulation. Can you review them for security vulnerabilities?"

"I'm working on a CSS stylesheet for my website. Can you review it for maintainability and suggest improvements?"

Remember, the objective of code review is not just to spot mistakes but also to learn how to write cleaner, more efficient, and more maintainable code.

These prompts should help you get meaningful feedback tailored to your needs.

#5 - Project Ideas and Planning

When you're ready to move from exercises to actual projects, ChatGPT can help brainstorm project ideas based on your interests and skill level.

It can even assist in outlining the project's architecture and provide guidance on best practices.

Example prompts:

"I'm new to Python and interested in data science. Can you suggest a beginner-level project idea?"

"I want to build a mobile app using React Native. Do you have any unique project ideas?"

"I'm learning web development and want to build a portfolio. Can you help me outline the architecture?"

"I want to work on an open-source project but don't know where to start. Can you guide me?"

"I'm interested in game development with Unity. Can you suggest a project that can be completed in two months?"

By asking these questions, you'll not only receive project ideas but also get help in planning their execution, ensuring a successful and educational coding experience.

Extra Tips for Maximising Learning with ChatGPT 📝

We've explored starter prompts and ideas to unlock ChatGPT's programming knowledge, but a few extra strategies can further enhance your learning experience:

❇️ Tailor Examples to Your Experience Level

Be clear about your current skill level in prompts so ChatGPT provides appropriate content.

Asking for "beginner-level Python examples" will give you different responses than requesting "advanced JavaScript algorithms."

Match the answers to your foundational knowledge.

❇️ Break Down Large Goals

Trying to learn everything at once is overwhelming.

Make prompts a series of small steps that build in complexity based on previous chat history.

Piecing together your learning creates more achievable milestones.

❇️ Gain Exposure to New Languages and Frameworks

Prompt ChatGPT to provide code samples in languages or frameworks you're looking to learn.

Having it explain something in Python and then translate it to JavaScript for example will make it easier to compare when trying to learn a new language.

❇️ Treat ChatGPT Like a Tutor

Ask for critiques, feedback, and suggestions as you work through coding exercises. ChatGPT can act as a coach guiding you through projects and collaborating on solutions.

Limitations of ChatGPT in Learning to Code 🚫

While ChatGPT can boost the coding learning process, it's important to have realistic expectations and address its shortcomings responsibly:

✅ Verify Accuracy

ChatGPT sometimes generates plausible-sounding but incorrect responses. Always corroborate its explanations against other resources.

Running code yourself is the best verification.

❌ Don't Plagiarise

Use ChatGPT's code examples for learning, not plagiarising solutions.

Type out code yourself to build real skills. Attribution is recommended where appropriate.

🚫 No Hands-On Execution

Unlike an IDE, ChatGPT cannot execute code or provide live runtime feedback. Testing and debugging skills require coding yourself.

⛔️ Knowledge Gaps

While extensive, ChatGPT's knowledge lags behind new languages and frameworks.

Supplement with official documentation for the latest updates in your tech stack.

Given these limitations, I would always recommend pairing ChatGPT with other interactive coding platforms, project-based courses, and developer communities.

Use multiple resources to maximise real-world skills, creative thinking, and learning by experience.

Set proper expectations while utilising its strengths for a better learning experience.


In summary, ChatGPT has opened loads of possibilities for boosting the programming learning process through its interactive learning and expansive knowledge.

Prompting ChatGPT for simplified explanations, practice exercises, and feedback can provide a level of personalised guidance never before seen in artificial intelligence.

This conversational approach allows you to fill knowledge gaps and iteratively develop skills at your own pace.

However, ChatGPT has limitations including potential inaccuracies, inability to execute code, and lack of human creativity.

Setting proper expectations and supplementing learning with other resources is important for maximising real-world coding skills.

I’d encourage you to try prompting ChatGPT within your own coding learning journey.

Start simple conversations about concepts you're struggling with and build up from there based on the principles outlined.

Most importantly, stay curious, keep coding yourself, and don’t forget to have fun exploring this growing life-changing tech.

AI won’t replace developers, but developers who use it might.

From your fellow ever-growing dev,

Cherlock Code

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Top comments (5)

vantiennn profile image

That right, but do not overusuage chatGPT, in sometimes i only research on chatGPT and try to find and copy the code it provide, but i do not have the basis knowaledge, and it wasting a lot of time, because i do not have the basic knowledge so that, the question i ask do not correct so that they send me the wrong answer. currently i also using it, it great but i think we just see it like a assistent not the main

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️ • Edited


I've tested ChatGPT a number of times with coding questions. Its answers are very often incomplete, or plain wrong:

ChatGPT is wrong... often

evergrowingdev profile image
Cherlock Code 🔎

This is true. This is why I said that it's important to verify the accuracy of the responses as it doesn't always get it right.

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy 🎖️

So, if you have to check all of the responses for accuracy (presumably by googling) - wouldn't cutting out the middle man and just going straight to Google be faster? 🤔

Thread Thread
evergrowingdev profile image
Cherlock Code 🔎

I hear your point, however one could argue that even answers from Google should be cross-referenced (depending on the source). Trying the code out for yourself and using trial and error from multiple sources is all part of the learning process, rather than just being fast.
I guess it's all about letting people try different things out for themselves to see what suits their learning styles.