The Language Barrier
Sun Oct 21, 2018 · 318 words

A general tip to anyone who is learning to code. If your English is not that strong, use a dictionary. Look up word meanings. They may have multiple definitions, but they generally point to a common idea. Understanding them goes a long way in developing an intuitive understanding of the corresponding concept.


Consider the following words and their dictionary definitions.

If you are a programmer with sound understanding of the English language, you will immediately recognise how close these definitions are to their meaning in the context of programming. It may even sound silly that this is worth even mentioning. But if your understanding of the language is limited, you may remember having to mug up a bunch of new words like these just for the sake of learning to code.

So if you are new to coding, make sure you understand the new terms in contexts other than programming, where in English language do you use words like “iterate”, “static”, “class” etc. It is then much easier to transfer the analogy to the programming context. If you are a friend or an instructor who is trying to teach coding to other people, again, make sure they understand what each new term means. I have attended quite a few talks where the instructor says “I won’t scare you with complicated terminologies”. Right idea, wrong execution. Yes, a newbie audience will be intimidated by new terms. But instead of entirely skipping the raw terminology take the time to explain what it means on a very literal level. It is worth it.

Language is a fundamental barrier. Acknowledge it.


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