There are plenty of compelling reasons to learn Java coding, even if you're a beginner. Java is a popular programming language, known for its reliability, versatility, and backwards compatibility (meaning it works with older legacy systems). It can also run on almost every computer without changing behavior.
But is Java hard to learn? The simple answer is that yes, it can be tricky. As you learn Java programming, you'll encounter some simple concepts like variables and functions, but there are also more abstract, complex ones like objects, bringing inheritance, and polymorphism that can be difficult to understand. Java also changes on a regular basis, with new features being added from time to time.
But even though there's a learning curve, it's smoother when you know some basic tips for how to learn Java coding. Once you get the hang of some basics and become fluent at a beginning level, it’s much easier (and more enjoyable) to learn the complex topics.
In this special sponsored post in partnership with CodeGym, you’ll discover the most effective and best ways to learn Java successfully, plus one of the best resources to learn Java for free. If you're unsure how to learn Java as a beginner, or have struggled to learn Java from scratch in the past, this article is for you.
Why Should I Learn Java?
Before we get into the best ways to learn Java programming, there's a more pressing question: why learn Java in the first place?
Java is a great choice for career-oriented beginners because it’s a skill that’s in high demand (three billion devices run Java!), which means more job/internship opportunities. Evidence suggests that 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Java for building applications and back-end systems. And it's a financially lucrative career option, with the average Java developer earning $102,514 per year.
You can use Java to build a variety of platforms and applications for different devices, including laptops, computers, gaming consoles, car navigation systems, Blu-ray players, medical monitoring devices, lottery terminals, parking meters, etc. This versatility makes the language exciting and unique, since the options for specialization are endless.
It's worth noting that Android apps are also built using Java, opening up opportunities not just in web and software development, but also mobile development. You can learn Java for Android using some of the 21 mobile app courses here.
Finally, Java has a strong community that can provide support as you’re learning:
- 2nd largest StackOverflow community
- 4th largest meetup community (there are over 1,400 Java Meetup groups, totaling over 580,000 members worldwide)
- 2nd most-tagged language on GitHub (over 1.5 million Java projects live on GitHub)
Ultimately, Java might not be the easiest language to learn, but there are many reasons why it's worth buckling down to the task.
5 Best Ways to Learn Java Successfully
Now that we’ve convinced you to start learning Java (or pick it back up), you're probably wondering what's the best way to learn Java successfully.
We've got you covered! Let’s take a look at five tips for how to learn to code in Java and keep going even when things get tough. Along the way you'll learn about CodeGym, one of the best resources out there to start learning Java for free in a successful, sustainable way.
1. Balance between theory and practice
Some theory is good to build yourself a knowledge foundation, but avoid too much theory at the expense of little practice. Reading a lot of Java books won’t help if you don’t actually write any programs. Don’t try to understand everything at once: read a bit at a time and then code, code, and code! You’ll learn as you go, and things will click as you actually use the concepts in a hands-on exercise.
That's why CodeGym is 80% focused on practice and 20% on theory. The course can provide complex help with the theoretical part of your education (Java syntax, OOP, structures, multithreading, etc.), without getting you too bogged down in theory with nothing to show for it.
After you solve all 1200+ of the tasks on CodeGym, you'll walk away with about 500 hours of actual programming experience under your belt.
2. Schedule your learning experience and set milestones and achievable goals to stay focused
Jumping from skill to skill is not usually an effective way to learn. It's best to dive deep into one language at a time so you don't get distracted or confuse one language with another. It's like trying to learn Spanish and Italian at the same time—you'll probably end up speaking some kind of hybrid.
Once you've chosen to learn a language like Java, keep your momentum by working through your chosen curriculum seven days a week. Even if it's only for half an hour at a time, committing to coding every day will help solidify the habit and make it feel like a normal part of your routine.
To stay focused when motivation is low, remind yourself why you want to learn Java. Do you want to become a full-time developer? Build your own app? Determine your goals and use them to keep you on track.
Using time management strategies (like the ones discussed in this podcast episode) will also make it much less stressful to carve out time to learn in your busy life.
CodeGym's course is helpful in this way because it sets milestones for you. The course is divided into a clear roadmap and timeline of what to work on, and sets achievable bite-size goals for you along the way.
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3. Use gamification to stay motivated
Not everyone can successfully learn from books and lectures alone. Gamification works by making the learning experience much more engaging, fun, and interactive. You’ll look forward to sitting down and completing tasks instead of feeling intimidated and overwhelmed. It's also a lot harder to get distracted when you're immersed in a game!
This is one of the main reasons that CodeGym is ideal for those seeking how to learn Java with no programming experience—their gamification is on point:
- CodeGym plays out like a video game; when you solve a problem correctly, you get “dark matter” (the points you need to open the next lecture or the next level)
- You play as an anthropomorphic robot named Amigo, and you go through the course level by level, collecting and spending dark matter
- The course/game is story-based and involves space travel, extraterrestrial life, and robots
- It’s divided into 40 levels (4 quests with 10 levels), with each level including about 15-30 coding tasks, 10-20 Java lectures, and motivation articles to keep you going—even when things get tricky
By making it into a game, you'll basically trick yourself into learning to code!
4. Communicate with other Java students and developers + ask questions
You’ll learn more effectively if you work closely with like-minded people. Plus, forming connections will improve your confidence and accelerate your learning.
When times get tough, asking the right questions helps you solve tricky tasks and complete complicated projects when you might give up otherwise. Be sure to ask specific questions instead of “something went wrong, can you help?” Don’t be embarrassed that you don’t know the answer.
Building a sense of community for yourself is also important for staying motivated. Learning to code is hard, but knowing that you’re not doing this alone helps!
Once you've built a foundation of knowledge, you can give back to the community by sharing tips of your own. You don't even have to wait until you're an expert, because teaching and mentoring someone else can actually help you retain information better and learn faster.
If you choose to learn with CodeGym, they have a community of students in their help section. Here, students ask for hints, help to break through roadblocks, and advice for finding out what they did wrong in their code.
5. Start building an online portfolio
As you learn, it's extremely valuable to build real projects and give others a chance to see your work. When you're ready to apply for Java developer jobs or take on freelance projects, you'll already have a portfolio ready to show potential employers or clients.
One popular option for developers is to create a GitHub account and post your projects there. Or, you could build your own portfolio website. Having a portfolio of your own also lets you look back with pride on the work you’ve accomplished.
Learn more about projects and portfolios on this episode of the podcast.
Now you’re armed with the strategies and techniques to help you learn Java the right way. Overall, the keys to learning Java are practice and consistency—and it doesn't hurt to keep it fun!
I really recommend starting your journey by signing up for CodeGym—completing the first quest is totally free, so you can try it out before moving on to the next quests. What better way to get your start in Java?