Coding is the new second language

Language is a systematic means of communication through the use of sounds or conventional symbols. It’s not just limited to human to human, but also human to computer – that’s what we called coding.

Coding refers to writing programming languages that can be understood by a computer. All of the software, websites, mobile apps we are using wouldn’t have been developed without coding. Initially, coding is considered as a specific skill for programmers. But as our society is increasingly dependent on technology, coding now becomes a compulsory skill for many jobs positions other than IT, which implicates the future demand for coding talents.

And unlike what we used to study in the past, the school education has to be altered to meet the future demands, recently some states in the US even considered allowing students to pick coding classes as a foreign language course.

 

Why is it important to learn Coding?

Coding courses are almost always included in STEM education in primary and secondary schools. Many believe that learning coding is as important as learning a second language. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc., even consider coding more important than English:

If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English.I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can use to express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.

Coding is the key to innovation in the future

Tech users can be classified into two types: the consumers of technology and the creators of technology. The aim of STEM education is to train students to become the creators. Dr. Chris Stephenson, Executive Director at the Computer Science Teachers Association said, “Being a consumer of technology – using a device – is using someone else’s code. What we need for tomorrow are students who know how to adapt computers to their own use and for their own interests.

She thinks that most parents wrongly assume their children “know about computers” because they are so adept at using technology, but consuming someone else’s product doesn’t make one stand out with their own thought and creativity.

To turn children from pure consumers to creators, coding would be the key. The process of learning to code not only helps children to develop creativity by writing their own programmes. After they gain sufficient knowledge of computing, they can also turn their own thoughts into more powerful things in the future, thus the possibility of innovation is extended.

Coding is an important job skill

Apart from Computer Programmer, many other job categories, such as Information Technology (IT) developers, Data Analysts, Designers, Engineers, and Scientists, now also require coding skills. As reported by Burning Glass, seven million job openings in 2015 required coding skill, and programming related jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average.

Furthermore, not only high techs companies are hiring programming talents. In fact, half of the programming jobs are offered by non-technology industries, such as finance, healthcare, and manufacturing. It’s because most organizations view IT as a way to complete tasks more efficiently and cost-effectively.

 

What is the right age for kids to learn Coding?

There’s no doubt that coding is important in the future world. Many parents would want their kids to equip themselves by start learning coding. The question is: what is the suitable age for a kid to learn to code?

According to PBS Parents, an average 4-year-old kid is able to make plans and complete tasks, solve problems with logical reasoning and understand the difference between reality and fantasy. Kids with these indications are able to start learning the basic coding concepts. Although coding itself involves complex computer languages, coding courses for young kids will start with simple teaching materials and focus on game-based learning. Coding courses for children can be broken down into different stages:

Stage 1 – Use of educational toys like Cubetto or visual interface like ScratchJr. Students will learn general programming logic and understand what is input & output.

Stage 2 – Introduction of block-based programming. It makes programming structures much more intuitive and modular. Block-based languages provide a list of commands to choose from, memorizing commands is not required at this stage.

Stage 3 – Progress to text-based programming. It requires coders to conform to formal syntax, even missing a semicolon will result in an error message. Despite this, text-based programming is more flexible and powerful than block-based programming.

In general, learning to code with the above progression is easier to let kids enjoy programming. No matter which stage they are at, they can create whatever they want with coding.

Want your kids to learn to code? First Code Academy offers progressive code education for different ages of children. Talk to us today!

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