Which should you learn first? The best programming languages for beginners

Coding beginners prefer some programming languages over others based on their simplicity and widespread use in tech courses and on the job.

The 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey helps us dig into related data. Their team collected responses from 89,184 software developers of various levels across 185 countries. The results were separated into three categories: Professional Developers, Learning to Code, and Other Coders.

In this post, we’ll largely focus on the Learning to Code crowd, looking into the programming languages they prefer, and why those are the best programming languages for beginners.

Person learning a programming langauge at the computer.

The Top 5 Programming Languages for Beginners

According to the survey, the following represent the five most popular languages used by Learning to Crowd respondents. Keep reading to understand why these are popular choices for beginners.

Though packaged together in the survey, HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are separate languages. However, they’re often considered one because they work together to create the structure and appearance of web pages. They’re essential tools for web development and allow developers to create well-structured and visually appealing content.

If you’re interested in web development, JavaScript is essential. It’s widely used by developers for web development, including web-based applications and browsers. As of 2023, JavaScript earned the top spot in the Stack Overflow survey as the most commonly used programming language by all respondents, beginner and experienced. It’s a scripting language that runs in web browsers, making it fundamental for front-end development.

Python has become one of the most popular programming languages for both new coders and experienced engineers. Its indentation-based block structure helps users write clean and easy-to-read code. This helps the coder, as well as teammates and collaborators. The language is versatile and used in various domains, including web development, data science, artificial intelligence, and others.

Structured Query Language (SQL) is used for handling structured data and is a crucial component in data management. For beginners, learning SQL opens possibilities for querying databases, modifying tables, and so much more than developers do on the job.

Java is widely used in web applications, Android app development, and more. It enforces good programming practices and is proven foundational for building a new skill set and career, as well as a solid jumping-off point for learning other languages.

How Professionals Are Using Languages on the Job

The Stack Overflow survey also tracks programming language use and popularity among professional developers. Their top three technologies are the same as last year: JavaScript, HTML/CSS, and SQL. But there were some interesting shifts over the past year, according to the survey.

“Python has overtaken SQL as the third most commonly-used language…A few technologies moved up a spot this year (Bash/Shell, C, Ruby, Perl, and Erlang) with two moving up two spots (Elixir and Lisp). The big mover, gaining seven spots since 2022 was Lua, an embeddable scripting language.

Additionally, TypeScript landed 5th on the professional developer list. This language is a superset of JavaScript that adds static typing and other features that make it easier to maintain and easier to work with larger codebases.

When You Learn One Programming Language, it’s Easier to Learn Others

Every programming language you learn is of value. When you learn to program in one language, it becomes easier to learn and work with others. Of course, some differences will take time to understand, but the experience gained from learning your first programming language provides a solid foundation for learning other languages efficiently.

According to Tech Elevator Coding Bootcamp Instructor John Fulton, what’s most important is the learning itself – learning how code functions and how to solve problems with it, no matter the language. He noted the importance of leaning on open-source libraries and other ways coders help one another learn and build together.

“We teach students to use programming languages to express problems in a way that computers can understand. That’s the essence of programming,” said John. “Every programming language provides a rich set of libraries to do what programmers need to do repeatedly…[and] many programming environments have open-source libraries other programmers have created for use in your code.”

In our coding bootcamps, we teach multiple languages (see image below). Our graduates are full-stack software developers by the end of the program, ready to take on a variety of technical roles.

What we teach in in our coding bootcamp, including programming languages.

Ready to start learning?

Learn about our coding bootcamps during an upcoming Open House event. Meet our team either in-person or online to understand how you’ll learn during the program, what you’ll learn, and how our Pathway Program will help you land your first job in tech.



Written by Kalyn Breneman,
Director of Admissions