Programming Bootcamp: How Easily Can a Graduate Learn New Languages?

The following is an email exchange between a potential Hack Reactor student and Hack Reactor Co-Founder, Doug Calhoun.

Applicant: How easy is it going to be for a graduate of Hack Reactor's programming bootcamp to learn a language other than JavaScript? I've had a few graduates of CS programs tell me they are able to learn new languages more easily because they understand the "theory" behind it. I'm not sure I'm buying that. Care to share your thoughts?

Doug Calhoun, Co-Founder: Although we work primarily in JavaScript, we make a point of covering the fundamentals of programming and web development in a language-agnostic way and learning from first principles. In certain ways, it's like learning the fundamentals of human communication, language structure and grammar. It doesn't matter whether you're studying a French or English text, although certain particulars might differ, it's the same underlying linguistic concepts.

There is a certain danger in learning a highly "magical" framework like Rails first (framework just means a module or library that contains a lot of pre-written code for easily and quickly doing certain tasks common to, for example, building server-side web applications) in that you can end up "cargo-culting" (blindly copying) certain commands without really understanding what those lines of code do (like a child that learns to say swear words without knowing what they mean). We work hard to avoid that pitfall.

I do not agree, however, that somebody needs to learn very low-level concepts (compilers & operating systems, manual memory allocation, pointer management, etc), such as they do in traditional CS education, in order to be a productive and successful web developer and be able to grow in their career.

Hope that helps… Keep those programming bootcamp questions coming!

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