Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
$Date: 2000/05/04 04:35:37 $
Learning a new programming language can be difficult and the pressure of "getting a job done" in an unknown language is even more difficult. But what are the common mistakes and how can they be avoided? And if you have the choice of giving the task to a novice and an experienced programmer, whom should you choose? Or does this not matter, since both of them don't know the new language? We will try to answer these and other questions and point out what is important when learning a new programming language.
Almost every programmer is sooner or later confronted with learning a new programming language. Many computer science studies start with a procedural language, like Pascal or Ada, to show basic algorithms and data structures. Later on, for example in an operating systems course, one may have to use C or C++. The study may also include the introduction to a functional language, like LISP or Haskell, and to a logical language, like Prolog. Or a programmer may work on a project where the use of a specific language is required. Even if one wants to extend an editor like Emacs or Microsoft Word with macros a user may find himself learning a new language. In short, it is quite unlikely that a programmer has to know only one language. We want to discuss some issues related to learning a new language and answer questions like: What are the most important cognitive factors for learning a new language? Is there a lot of negative transfer to the new language, i.e. are concepts learned in a former language transferred to the new language, but are there inappropriate? And what is of most help when learning a new language?
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