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Programming resembles learning a language

What languages do you speak? According to Felienne Hermans, ‘Python’ could be an answer to this question. Hermans studies how people learn to program at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) of Leiden University. In an article of the NewScientist she explains why programming is similar to learning a language.

Talking to a computer

Research from Chantal Prat, professor in psychology at the University of Washington, shows that having a head for languages is more important for learning to program than for example mathematical skills. ‘Programming languages also require learning vocabulary and grammar. By learning this language, you can communicate your ideas, but to a computer instead of to other people.’ According to Hermans, these results can be used to change the way we teach programming. 

More female coders

Often, people associate programming with mathematics and engineering. Because of this association, they assume that it is mainly for men. ‘I hope that these results can help change the image that people have of programming,’ says Hermans. ‘It would be of great value if programming could attract more women and language-oriented men.’

Read the full article (in Dutch) on the website of NewScientist.

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