How Hard It Is to Learn Programming

15 Aug 2021

Programming is a valuable job skill. No matter whether you start searching for part-time jobs, full-time employment opportunities, or even if you wish to work as a freelancer, learning how to code can be a rewarding decision. These skills are selling like hot cakes in the market and have ample growth opportunities.

However, many people give up on coding or never even buck up the courage to give it a shot, simply because they think that it’s too difficult. But is that truly the case? Through the course of this article, you will find out!

Is Coding Really Difficult to Learn?

The simplest answer to this question is, NO. Coding does have its own challenges. It would be wrong to state that learning how to code is extremely simple and easy. As is the case with any new skill, the beginning of the process is a bit more complex. It does require additional effort.

But if you remain persistent, keep trying, and most importantly, practice and implement what you learn, you will be able to master the art of coding within no time. Bear in mind the fact that it’s a practical skill, which means the more you practice, the better it gets.

From online courses and tutorials to coding challenges and playgrounds, you can opt for any resource to help you grasp programming. And the best part is the fact that these are targeted towards people with all types of backgrounds, learning styles, and aptitudes.

Choose Language Based on Difficulty Levels

As a beginner, your goal should be to master the skills of problem-solving and coming up with a pipeline to solve coding problems. Then you can start translating your approach into code. Once you have mastered one language, transitioning to others will be fairly simple.

Language Difficulty (out of 10)
Python 4
Java 6
JavaScript 4
C++ 6
C# 5
C 6
R 2
Ruby 6
Swift 4
Kotlin 7
Go 4
Perl 4
Rust 6
Scala 8
Objective-C 5
Visual Basic 4
Assembly 9

Semantics, Not Syntax Matters!

When learning how to code, focus on the thought process. Study different algorithms and solve challenges to get in the flow of using programming to automate smaller tasks. Once you are comfortable with algorithm formation, you can write it in pseudocode. And then the pseudocode can be transformed to any other language quite easily.

The main difference between the variable languages is little more than that in syntax. Once you have the semantics under control, learning the syntax and familiarizing yourself with the structural differences between them will not be a difficult task for you.

Languages with Simple Syntax

Computers do not understand human language. Therefore, the core purpose of coding is to translate human logic into something that can be comprehended by the computer. There are certain languages whose syntax is quite similar to that of humans.

Learning these is naturally simpler compared to ones with a more complex interface. Some natural programming languages include:

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • R
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • PHP

Languages with Complex Syntax

There are some languages whose syntax is a bit more complex. The code debugging and maintenance is also more difficult. Plus, processes like memory allocation, memory deallocation, variable declaration, garbage collection and so on are not automated, and the programmers have to take care of these tasks as well.

Such languages have higher complexity and are not recommended for beginners, especially those who are completely new to the world of tech. Examples include:

  • Java
  • Assembly
  • C
  • C++
  • C#

How Hard Is Each Language to Learn?

As we are aware of both the easy and hard ends of the spectrum, let’s discuss each language individually to estimate their difficulty levels.


Learning Python is generally regarded as one of the easiest things you can do. If you have never coded before, even if you are an absolute beginner, you can learn Python. However, it will take some time, and you should be prepared for occasional frustration.

Still, its syntax is pretty straightforward, without any complex or hard to understand keywords. Despite the ease, the language allows you to automate tasks and develop outstanding programs by using its libraries and expanded frameworks.


Due to its complexity, Java is a tricky language to learn. While it involves many basic concepts like variables and functions, it also introduces more abstract, complex ones like objects, which can be difficult to understand.

Java also includes inheritance and polymorphism concepts that are a bit confusing for many programmers. Hence, it is only recommended to learn Java if you have prior experience in any other language.


JavaScript isn’t particularly difficult to grasp, but it takes time to adapt to the mindset required to program in it. As a programming language for beginners, JavaScript is actually a very easy one.

Fortunately, you can find several resources online that will enable you to learn it easily. Although JavaScript is harder than Python, concepts are still easy to pick up if one pays attention.


Due to its large feature set, C++ is difficult to learn. Concepts are just tricky to comprehend in a lot of cases.

Despite the difficulty of grasping C++ when compared to other languages like Python or Java, it is well worth learning. C++ offers tremendous value, whether you want to create games, web browsers, or embedded systems.


C# has many abstractions that make all of the most complex tasks easier to understand, so the programmer doesn’t have to worry about them. Unlike simpler languages, such as Python, mastering C# takes a lot more time.

C# is very powerful because it runs within the .NET framework and includes the best elements from C++ and Java. If you want to pick up C# fast, then online resources might be very helpful to easily learn all the concepts.


General-purpose languages like C are preferred by most programmers to move on to more complicated ones. Because of its simple syntax and 32 keywords, it is easy to grasp . In C, an intuitive understanding of data structures is necessary.

Most programming languages are implemented in C, so learning it is more challenging than that of JavaScript. Due to its close interaction with both humans and machines, C is known as a “machine language.”


For beginners, R is an excellent option to pick up because you do not need prior experience. The tidyverse collection of packages makes it easier than ever.

Spending at least three hours a day on R for seven days should be sufficient for someone who has some coding experience to pick it up. Beginners usually learn R in 3 weeks.


Rather than being a programming language, SQL is a query language. Also, because SQL is “English-like”, almost anyone who is comfortable with writing English can write queries in it. All SQL code is compatible with most DB engines.

To master the basics of SQL and work with its databases, an average learner should need about two to three weeks.


Those just beginning to code are considered to have an easier time learning PHP than other options. It has its own rules of coding, abbreviations, and algorithms, just like any other programming language.

It will depend on the method you choose for learning PHP whether you find it easy or challenging. With regular practice, you can pick it up in just a couple of weeks.


HTML and CSS are unique among programming languages since they have no competition. CSS and HTML have a relatively simple foundation. In just a few hours, you can become familiar with HTML. While CSS is not difficult to understand when it comes to basics, it can be a bit difficult when building advanced layouts.

Learning CSS and HTML properly should take an average learner between seven and eight months with good discipline.


Ruby itself is quite straightforward. Generally, Ruby is an object-oriented language with a clean interface and is pretty small. There’s one thing different from the rest; that is Ruby’s Blocks and Procs, but once you figure those out, it is not much different from Python & Perl.

An entry-level developer with a bit of talent and/or prior programming experience can deliver a meaningful contribution in approximately 4 to 8 weeks.


Even people without coding experience will be able to understand Swift’s syntax because it is simple and expressive. According to Apple, Swift is meant to be the first programming language that anyone can pick up.

As an average learner, you should be able to write simple Swift code in about 3-4 weeks since it has friendly syntax and a lot of features that make it ideal for building mobile applications.


Kotlin is not that hard to learn. But one of the differences you’ll soon realize when you start studying it is that it’s quite different from the regular programming languages that you would have studied earlier, such as C, Java, and C++.

Although most people agree that Kotlin is an excellent option, many (including big Kotlin developers) recommend to still start with Java.


There are fewer syntax rules in Go than most other programming languages. Almost everything can be remembered in your head, so you don’t have to spend much time looking anything up. Aside from being clear and easy to read, the coding is also very clean.

Becoming proficient takes different amounts of time for different people. Though it won’t be difficult for you if you are already experienced in a back-end language like Java, PHP, or C.


The learning curve for Perl is low and it’s easy to retain expertise. Certainly, if you are familiar with a majority of languages or if you have ever written C programs, an awk script, a shell script, or even a BASIC program, you already know a big part of Perl.

You can expect to pick up the basics in up to two months if you study one hour a day, but this time period varies based on your prior experience as well.


There are enough differences between Rust and other languages to make learning it difficult. Picking up Functional Programming is hard if all you know is OOP.

In the vast majority of cases, Rust users don’t use it for more than a year or two due to its difficulty.


Despite its OOP functionality, Scala has a relatively easy learning curve. Using their existing knowledge of object-oriented programming in Scala, Java developers can still be productive by taking time to understand functional programming.

If you have no previous Java experience, it will take two to three months to learn Scala. Those already familiar with Java can pick it up in approximately one month.


Compared to other languages, Matlab is the most understandable and easiest to learn before working your way up to other languages, such as Java, Python, C, and C++.

Additionally, Matlab is much simpler to use than Python. In it, you can perform matrix and vector operations directly rather than having to use NumPy in Python.


Objective-C looks hard because of the syntax and all those words. Aside from its funny-looking syntax, this is an easier language for beginners to learn.

The best firms with iOS developers, such as Facebook and Google, still use a lot of Objective-C. Learning it should take around a week.

Visual Basic

An easy-to-learn, type-safe programming language, Visual Basic is intended to make coding easy.

Visual Basic is a good tool for a beginner who does not have much experience. It introduces concepts of object-oriented programming and how software is made in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Visual Basic’s IDE is very good.


It may be more complicated to learn assembly as your first language than it would be for others, such as Python. Reading and understanding it is difficult. In assembly language, you can easily write programs that are impossible to decipher for normal programmers.

APL, Prolog, and C are also very easy to write in an impossible-to-read manner, but still these languages are used to this date.

Bottom Line

Some languages, such as Python, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, are recommended for beginners who are just stepping into the programming domain. Otherwise, if a programmer has some prior experience with coding, then they can choose a bit more complex ones, such as Java, Scala, and Kotlin, etc.

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