5 Free Sites Where You Can Teach Yourself How to Code

Natalia Ostrowski

5 Free Sites to Learn Coding for Beginners

Coding is one of the most exciting skills that you can learn. Increasingly, everything we use is connected to the internet. Smart watches, cells phones, even coffee makers are connected to the internet. Often, it’s those who want to know how these technologies work who try their hand at learning how to code. Computer science is also one of the fastest-growing majors on college campuses. 

You may be curious about what happens when you type www.ingeniusprep.com in your browser, or how a webpage knows what to do when you click on a button.  You may be wondering how it is that we’re able to send an email from New Haven to Shanghai in a matter of seconds. These are all questions that can be answered with the study of programming. People from Mark Zuckerberg to supermodel Karlie Kloss asked these questions, and today one of them has created the world’s largest social network and the other has created a coding school for young women.

Learning how to code is as empowering as it is intimidating – popular culture dictates that if you haven’t been taking computers apart since you were 2 months old, you’re never going to be a good engineer. Others may express hesitation to learn how to code because “only those who study computer science are programmers”. Lucky for you, learning how to code is not the same as studying computer science. While knowing computer science concepts, data structures and algorithms is crucial to being a good programmer, there are many very talented software developers who didn’t study computer science in high school or college (and many talented computer scientists who are not very good at coding!).

When you first learn how to code, it’s like learning a new language. With coding for beginners, you learn the syntax of the language you choose (Java, Python, JavaScript, Ruby, etc.), and then you learn how to apply logic to this syntax. This knowledge gives you a superpower. You are learning how to tell a computer what to do! You’re continually stretching your brain when you take the time to solve a problem or fix a difficult bug.

If you’re a novice, there are countless coding for beginners resources available online where you can teach yourself how to code. The following 5 resources will help you get on your way to becoming a coding savant!

1) Codecademy

Codecademy is one of the most introductory and approachable ways to learn how to code. You can choose from several languages, including Python, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, Java and more. There is an option to learn one language on its own, or you can follow a broader curriculum to learn front-end, back-end or full-stack development.

You will be coding within Codecademy’s development environment (so you do not have to worry about working in the terminal), and it will help you determine whether your answers are correct, provide hints along the way, and quizzes your knowledge to make sure you’re learning the material.

2) Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw

Learn Python the Hard Way is an excellent book that takes you through Python’s syntax and functionality by typing. That’s right – Zed Shaw guides you through “Pythonic” logic and establishes the foundations of the language where you type what you see on the page.

Don’t be fooled – this is not a passive exercise. It’s important that you pay attention to the code you are typing into your text editor. While it might not all make sense from the very start, the point is that you practice typing code consistently and recognize common patterns.

3) Chris Pine’s Learn to Program

Learn to Program is an excellent book for the beginning programmer. Chris Pine teaches the fundamentals of programming using the Ruby language. He focuses on the building blocks of writing simple code by working through logic problems.

The benefits of learning languages like Ruby or Python is that they read very much like English. The syntax is much easier to read and understand than Java, PHP or JavaScript, especially for a beginner. Once you can master one language, it becomes more intuitive to learn another (like learning Spanish, then adding on Portuguese).

4) Coursera and EdX

Coursera and EdX are excellent online resources, most of all because you can take courses from some of the best institutions in the world for a reasonable price. Additionally, Coursera has the option for you to achieve a “verified certificate”, which asserts that you have completed the course in full. EdX provides courses from Harvard and other top universities not on the Coursera platform, including Harvard’s introductory computer science course that Mark Zuckerberg took before dropping out.

5) Udemy

Udemy is another great resource that leverages experts in their fields, ranging from professors to programmers with 20+ years of experience. Courses are often on sale for $10, and you can choose from beginner to advanced courses in nearly every coding language.

If you're interested in STEM, looking to major in Computer Science, or simply curious about what makes something like this blog work, consider looking into one of these coding for beginners sites!

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