Why You Should Learn Another Programming Language

If you’re a developer in the world of WordPress, you typically know one programming language: PHP. You may have some familiarity with Javascript, but PHP is likely where you feel most comfortable. That doesn’t mean comfortable is where you should stay, though. Let’s talk about why you might want to start learning another programming language, even if you’re not going to use it on a day-to-day basis for your job.

Let’s start at the beginning: How did you learn PHP? One of the greatest aspects of the modern web development world, especially for WordPress, is that there are so many different ways that you can gain entry. You may have taken a programming course in high school or college. You may have attended a local Meetup or WordCamp where you could learn from others who have knowledge that you didn’t have. Or you may have taken online courses to learn or sharpen your skills. Regardless of your background, you probably know PHP well (or well enough), but you also know that there are plenty of areas of the language that you don’t know well.

Why would you want to learn another language, when you may already feel like you could still stand to learn more about PHP? Well, there are plenty of great reasons, but I’m going to cover just a few:

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Learn to think differently

Once you’ve gotten accustomed to working in a certain language, your mind will eventually adjust to using the most efficient method when problem solving.

That’s a fancy way of saying that your mind can get stuck in a problem-solving rut.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you naturally develop greater efficiency in your work on a day-to-day basis. But what happens when you’re faced with a problem unlike anything you’ve had to solve before? You might come up with an inefficient solution, because it’s closest to what you know.

Learning a new programming language will help you prevent your mind from getting stuck in a rut. When learning a new language, you’ll need to learn how best to solve particular problems for that language.

This may be similar to how you would approach it in your current language, or it may be drastically different. Regardless of the exact differences, you’ll need to consciously think about how to solve a given problem in the new language, and you’ll likely want to look at examples from people who are experts with that language. Your mind will get out of the rut and start looking at problems from a different perspective. This difference in vantage point will carry over to your current language, and you just may find that you have new ideas for how to solve problems more efficiently.

Invest in the value of your skills

Developers of every kind have a skill set that is highly desirable in today’s modern world. There are hundreds of things that we all touch or interact with on a daily basis that required a developer to write code to solve a problem. In other words, the modern world needs developers to run, and to continue running.

Career trends have changed over the years. For the people in my parents’ generation, it was common to spend your entire career at a single company. These days, it’s rare to see anyone stay at one company for their entire career. If you’re a developer and you find yourself looking for a job, regardless of the circumstances, having another programming language to draw on will allow you to look for opportunities in more places. It can also make you more valuable if you need to fill a role that requires the knowledge of multiple programming language.

Another possibility: You may want to start your own business at some point. When clients come to you with their problems that they need your expertise to solve, you’ll have more tools in your metaphorical tool belt with which to solve those problems. As the old saying goes, “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

Knowing an additional language means that you can solve a greater variety of problems and more effectively earn a living for your family.

Work with a different group of people

When you get stuck on a problem, where do you go to help you find a solution? You may go online to StackExchange or the WordPress forums (or something similar). You may have one or more coworkers that you reach out to for advice. Perhaps you have some other mentor who can give you assistance. All of these methods for finding a solution from other people are valuable.

However, similarly to how your mind can become stuck in a particular way of thinking, you may find yourself “stuck” within a certain circle of influence related to the programming language that you currently know well.

When you start to learn a new programing language, don’t assume that you can figure out everything on your own. Find some forums, a local group, a coworker, or anyone else with more experience in the new language who can help you learn it the right way. In other words, seek out an established community around the new language. These are the people who will help you learn how to solve problems with that language in the most efficient way. These are the people who can help guide your thought process as you’re learning. Having a community that you can connect with is essential if you want to have any of the other benefits I mentioned previously from learning a new language.

What new language should I learn?

There isn’t a single good answer to this question, because there isn’t one single “right” answer. There are many different programming languages these days, and all of them are suited to different purposes. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Python
  • Javascript
  • Swift
  • Java
  • Ruby

Do you have any questions? Are there any programming languages that you want to recommend? Feel free to leave a comment below!


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