The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures

Coding as a Foreign Language

Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs said this quite a while ago, but I never really thought about what he was really trying to say until now. (I’m sure other people did, but I was clearly otherwise occupied). We all know the benefits of being bilingual or learning a language, but why should we not expand our definition of language?

Learning a language has definite cognitive benefits but is also useful for employment, travelling and, of course, communication.

[For a quick reminder of these benefits, have a look at this infographic  from]

bilingual infographic.png

I am passionate about languages and so have been aware of the benefits for a long time, but then I stumbled across an article which made me realise what Jobs was actually going on about.

Have you ever considered coding as a foreign language?

I realise this is not actually a new idea and that I am just late to the party, but the more I read, the more excited I get about the developments being made in relation to this idea.

To put it simply, learning to code helps your brain deal with logic, problem solving and critical thinking – similar to learning a second or foreign language. And why should it not be considered a language, because it is:

The language comparison is interesting because computer languages are first and foremost, languages. They are analogous to the written versions of human languages but simpler, requiring expressions without ambiguity.

They have a defining grammar. They come with equivalent dictionaries of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs; with prepositions and phrase patterns, conjunctions, conditionals and clauses. Of course the dictionaries are less extensive than those of human languages, but the pattern rendering nature of the grammars have much the same purpose.

[For the full article – and a great illustration of how to learn code – go here]

As with learning a language I imagine the sooner, the better would hold true for coding as well, which is why coding is being promoted as a new subject in primary schools. Pupils in some schools in the UK and Australia can now choose to study a language like French or coding, and I can only imagine the benefits these kids are going to see in their futures.

Now I know there has been a bit of a backlash against this coding movement and I haven’t had a chance yet to read the all the criticism, but for now I’m a big fan.  What do you think?



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This entry was posted on December 10, 2015 by in language, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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