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The Best Programming Language for Beginners to Learn in 2024

Daniel Cranney


Let’s be honest, learning to code isn’t easy. Regardless of which language you decide to adopt, there will be hurdles to overcome, from learning syntax and concepts, encountering bugs that seem impossible to fix, struggling to pick up new concepts and more.

If you’re new to the world of programming, deciding which path to take can be more daunting than actually learning the language itself, and if you’re not sure where to begin then it’s hard to get your coding journey started in the first place.

In this article, we’ll help you decide which language could be the best fit for you (as a beginner), considering a number of factors along the way. These include: syntax readability, how well the language is maintained, its versatility, your prospects when looking for a job with it, and more.

At this point, we should also stress that this article is not designed to be an exhaustive list of the programming languages worth learning. We will focus on some of the most popular (and promising) languages, covering Python, JavaScript, Java, Rust and PHP, and hopefully we can help you decide which might be best for you to pick up in 2024 and beyond.


First created in the early 90s, Python’s rise was slow and steady up until around 2017, when it saw a sudden and sustained uptick. It's thought that this is largely due to an increase around that time in programmers working with AI and machine learning, two areas that Python lends itself to (but we’ll get into that later).

While exact numbers regarding its popularity can be elusive and debated, the TIOBE index lists the language as the most popular programming language, and has done since late 2022. 

Python’s popularity in the realms of data science and artificial intelligence help bolster its overall popularity, making the future bright for Pythonistas, but let’s take a closer look to see if it’s a good one to pick up in 2024. 

The Syntax

If this debate could be settled by looking at syntax readability alone, Python would make a strong argument for itself.

Its syntactic differences compared with other languages might appear subtle, but Python is less cluttered, and more concise than many of the others on this list. With fewer curly braces and parentheses than many others, and no need to overtly declare variables due to its dynamic typing (a variable is simply created the moment you assign a value to it), the end result is a language that is clean and close to plain English, relatively speaking, which was in fact one of the goals of its creator, Guido van Rossum, when he first created it back in 1991.


Python is extremely well-maintained, with the Python Software Foundation committed to developing, improving, expanding, and popularizing the language, which it has done to great effect. Sources are divided about exactly where Python sits on the list of most popular programming languages (in general), however when looking at it specifically in relation to AI and machine learning, Python is the most popular language, which scores it an extra point in this category.

According to the Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey from 2023, 45% of professional developers that responded to the survey said they worked with Python, while this number is 57% amongst those still learning to code. This suggests users may move on to other languages once they are in established roles, and that Python might be a great introductory language for newbies to learn, but one with good prospects even if the programmer decides to stick with it as their main language.


Python is commonly thought of as a language that leans towards backend development more than it does frontend, and that’s true, to a point. While Python itself is typically used for backend development, tools like Brython and Skulpt allow users to use Python client-side, in amongst their HTML.

Let’s be clear though, this kind of implementation still feels a little hacky, and is a way for Python programmers to use their chosen language in a different environment, rather than being the intended use of the language, so it loses a point in this category.

While it might have limitations in the realm of web development, Python’s versatility goes far beyond the web, with it being hugely popular in data science, finance, scientific investigation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more. Python’s popularity has been to some extent due to its usefulness across different sectors and for such a broad variety of use-cases, so this certainly helps it score some points here, and come in as one of the more versatile options on the list.

Job prospects

Despite JavaScript being the most popular coding language across multiple surveys for over a decade, Python has been slowly closing the gap (or in fact overtaking it, by some measurements)

A quick look at Google search trends shows that JavaScript’s popularity as a search term has consistently dropped over the past 20 years, while Python has trended in reverse.

This growth in popularity, and the versatility of the language, mean it might be a good language to learn if you’re concerned about layoffs within the tech industry, and want to equip yourself with a language that allows you to pivot (perhaps from web development to machine learning) if the worst-case scenario occurs.

Assuming machine learning and artificial intelligence continue the growth they’ve seen in recent years into the future, this might make Python a safe bet to learn in 2024 in terms of employability.

  • Syntax Readability: 9/10
  • Maintenance and Support: 9/10
  • Versatility: 8/10
  • Job Market Trends: 9/10

Overall: 8.8 / 10


According to some sources, JavaScript is the most popular programming language, across all sectors, with over 14m developers using it worldwide. 

Though we previously noted there’s been a decline in searches for the language, this might not tell the entire story. Firstly, searches might be divided by those searching for TypeScript (its stricter relative) or any of the many frameworks and libraries within its ecosystem.

Secondly, data suggests JavaScript appears to be continuing to grow at a healthy rate, in fact seeing a doubling of the number of users using it between 2018 and 2023, with 20% of all software engineers using it in their projects in some form.

Even so, a language being popular doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you to learn. We’ll get to how it might be a benefit, but it certainly shouldn’t be the main reason for you picking it up.

The Syntax

JavaScript is far from the most readable language featured in this article, and while it does look relatively similar to Python at first, it’s admittedly less concise, with some additional curly brackets and parentheses making it slightly less readable, and trickier to pick up.
JavaScript might not always feel very forgiving, but just a simple comparison to Python shows that it will at least try to make code meaningful, rather than just returning an error.

A simple snippet of JavaScript showing how numbers can be coerced to strings

In the simple example above, despite hello and 2 being different types (a string and a number respectively), JavaScript will coerce the number to a string and return “hello2”. If this were to occur in Python, the difference in type would result in an error.

Now, it’s for you to decide whether this is a positive or a negative. On the one hand, it means the bumps in the road that beginners will find (like the one above) won’t cause any major issues, but the downside is that they may overlook these quirks in their learning journey, falling into bad habits that become bigger issues further down the line.


It’s easy to think that because of JavaScripts’ popularity and age, maintainers might be comfortable with its position and popularity and therefore less likely to develop like some new languages might. 

However, JavaScript is in fact highly-maintained, with the ECMAScript standards driving its continual development. Annual releases since 2015 have brought about features like arrow functions, classes, and modules, all of which have kept the language in-line with modern practices. 

JavaScript is deeply ingrained into the infrastructure of some of the largely tech brands on earth, with a number of hugely popular libraries and frameworks flying the flag for the language, including React, developed by Facebook, which is the most popular library for building user interfaces, as well as Angular.js, Vue.js and Next.js, all of which are hugely popular frameworks.

There’s certainly no danger of JavaScript disappearing any time soon, and it’s a lively language that is improving all the time, so in this respect is a good option to pick up.


JavaScript is certainly a strong contender for the most versatile language on this list. Sure, JavaScript’s syntax might not be the most straightforward, but its ecosystem provides incredible support for newbies looking to build full stack applications, from Node.js making JavaScript simple to use server side, to built-in support for JavaScript in every browser around.

In 2024, JavaScript can be used in almost any context. Tech like React Native extends its use to mobile development, Electron helps JavaScript developers make desktop applications, and it scores high on surveys looking at popular languages in areas like machine learning and AI.

There are very few areas where JavaScript simply cannot be used, which helps it score a strong score here.

Job prospects

When a language is popular, it’s a double-edged sword when it comes to gaining employment using it. The popularity of the language means there are likely lots of jobs available that require it, but it also means competition is likely to be stiff, compared to a more niche language.

JavaScript is probably the best example of this, as according to the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 65.36% of respondents say they use JavaScript as part of their stack in some form. Let that sink in… two-thirds of all developers say they use JavaScript, even if it's not the language they primarily code in every day.

A survey published on Statistica showed that JavaScript (and TypeScript) were first - and fifth - most demanded languages by recruiters, respectively, though UK jobs site Indeed suggests far fewer jobs listed for JavaScript (~2700) than Python (~5000), though this might be due to the way Python is used so commonly in data science and machine learning.

Either way, it's safe to say that JavaScript remains well-used, and in demand, as a language in a job-hunting developers’ stack.

  • Syntax Readability: 7/10
  • Maintenance and Support: 9/10
  • Versatility: 9.5/10
  • Job Market Trends: 8/10

Overall: 8.3 / 10


Often overshadowed by JavaScript (despite being entirely unrelated), Java is quietly maintaining its place near the top of any most-popular programming language list. With most sources showing it as neck-and-neck with Python as the second-most popular language behind JavaScript, while it may not get the same hype as some of its competitors, it’s popularity is unquestionable.
Let’s take a closer look at it to understand whether its popularity among experienced developers translates to new coders looking to pick it up for the first time.

The Syntax

To somebody new to coding, Java’s syntax looks complicated. As a language, it is heavily influenced by C and C++, meaning it is strictly object-oriented and quite verbose to the languages we’ve already discussed.

This verbosity isn’t necessarily a disadvantage though, we should say this. For beginners, the verbosity and the strict adherence to object-oriented principles might seem daunting and allow for less room for error. However, this verbosity also encourages developers to write clear, well-organised code that conforms to good programming practices, which in the long-run is bound to be a good thing.

However, on the surface, there’s a lot more to remember - and to write - to achieve very simple tasks. Below is a simple if statement, which compared to JavaScript and Python is considerably more verbose, and for this it loses a couple of points.

A simple if statement in Java, showing its verbosity


Java was first created in the mid 1990s (1995, to be exact) and while it sits near the top of the most popular - or most-used - programming languages, its popularity has undeniably waned in recent years. Some suggest this drop in popularity was due to the fact tech-giant Oracle bought the language along with its creator-company, Sun Microsystems, back in 2010:

“When Oracle took over Sun, some important Java language specialists left Sun as a protest. Apart from that a lot of prominent Java evangelists disapproved (of) the takeover and started to promote other languages”.

Critics say the language hasn’t changed much in recent years, which itself does not bode well for the future of the language, but could make it easier for Java newbies to find resources to solve issues with (as even though they might be older, they’re unlikely to be out of date).

Java is certainly a more stagnant language than many others on this list, and loses a few points in maintenance for this reason.


What Java does well, it does really well. Primarily used for backend purposes, Java is well-established as a great language to use for large-scale, enterprise-level applications. It’s robust, and scalable, which makes it a perfect choice for building complex systems with a heavy focus on backend.

While it can be used in some frontend environments, its decline in popularity through the 2010’s meant that Java hasn’t seen the springing up of frameworks and libraries that JavaScript has, or the boost in popularity that hype around these frameworks has brought to JS.

Had Java continued to ride the wave of popularity it had pre-Oracle purchase, who knows what its ecosystem would have looked like today. The fact is, it didn’t, and therefore excitement for new technologies coming to the Java ecosystem remains unfortunately low, which certainly takes the edge off of its score for this category.

Job prospects

Java might not carry a great deal of hype in 2024, it's still a fairly robust choice in terms of its demand from recruiters and popularity amongst programmers.

While it might not be the most versatile language, it does gain some points in this area due to its position within the world of Android development and the fact it is a well-trusted option for enterprise-level applications, including Microsoft, PayPal, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and more.

While the future of Java is unclear, it's so well-embedded into so many large-scale systems that it’s hard to imagine it - and the job opportunities it brings - disappearing any time soon, and for this reason it’s a solid choice for learning in 2024.

  • Syntax Readability: 6.5/10
  • Maintenance and Support: 8/10
  • Versatility: 7/10
  • Job Market Trends: 8/10

Overall: 7.4 / 10


Rust is certainly the youngest language on the list, and that’s precisely why we chose to consider it in the list. It’s tempting to think that learning a new language is risky, because if the language doesn’t gain popularity then you will have invested time into something with very little use.

However, Rust is almost a decade down the line now, with the first release launched in 2015, and with it being adopted by Amazon, Discord, Dropbox, Google (Alphabet), Meta, Microsoft and more in the years since.

But what does this mean for its prospects going forward, and those of people picking it up in 2024?


Let’s take a look at Rust’s syntax. Designed with a strong focus on safety and performance without sacrificing readability, to many it is a modern day alternative to C or C++, and the syntax suggests this due to the similarity between them.

While it is more readable than languages like C++, its type safety makes it more verbose than languages like Python and Ruby. Again, this is a double-edged sword as it forces developers to adhere to clear rules, but can also make its learning curve steeper. Rust’s concept of ownership further compounds this, and while it will make for robust code, it can make it more frustrating to pick up for the first time.

Maintenance and Support

Actively maintained by the Rust team at the Mozilla Foundation, and with a large community of contributors including 5,000 contributors on GitHub, Rust has a stable release cycle, with a new version released every six weeks.

This has served it well, gaining over 94,000 stars on GitHub and a steady increase in its search popularity since its inception in 2015.

As the newest language on the list, even with a growing community around it and a seemingly-positive outlook in terms of its development, it's difficult to achieve a high mark for this category when comparing it with the others, each of which has an extremely well-established community and ecosystem around it.


Rust is well-known for its application in systems programming, embedded systems, and demanding performance-oriented tasks; particularly as performance is one of its strongest selling points.

However, its reach is expanding and its versatility is certainly increasing. Projects like WebAssembly show how Rust can be used for frontend web development, and frameworks such as Rocket and Actix offer robust tools for backend development, showcasing Rust's growing potential, however it feels as though we’re yet to see the framework that really enables newbie developers to pick up Rust and build with it quickly, as the learning curve that it brings make this quite difficult to achieve.

For now, it’s becoming a strong contender in terms of popularity amongst systems programmers, as well as in game development, but hasn’t been taken on broadly yet in other areas.

While Rust is not as universally used in both frontend and backend development as some other languages, its versatility is increasing as the ecosystem grows and matures.

Job prospects

The job market for Rust developers is growing - much like the language - but is relatively immature at this time. While Rust has been adopted by some large-scale and high-profile companies like Mozilla, Dropbox and Cloudflare (mainly in their infrastructure), it hasn’t caught on yet as a well-known technology associated with a wide variety of jobs.

As a snapshot, just a surface-level search of UK jobs site Indeed pulls down around 2.5k jobs when JavaScript is the term, whereas Rust brings just 299 (many of which are totally unrelated to development, and come as a confusion of search terms).

Even so, while the overall number of job listings specifically for Rust developers might be lower than many of the other languages on this list (largely due to its age and some limitations in its versatility), the roles available tend to be well-compensated and focused on high-level or enterprise-level projects.

Rust stands out for its focus on safety, performance, and a rapidly growing ecosystem. While it may have a steeper learning curve compared to some other languages, its advantages in reliability and efficiency make it a compelling choice for a wide range of applications.

  • Syntax Readability: 6/10
  • Maintenance and Support: 7/10
  • Versatility: 7/10
  • Job Market Trends: 7/10

Overall: 6.8 / 10


Despite being just a year older than Java (with the language first launched - with the worst name ever, Personal Homepage - in 1994), PHP has garnered somewhat of a reputation for being a relic of some kind, an outdated coding artifact from days gone by.

This reputation might be a little unfair, as PHP actually has some great benefits from newbies, and with a future that looks far brighter than you might think.

The Syntax

PHP’s syntax really isn’t that complicated. Sure, it has a few quirks there that make it stand out compared to some of the others listed here, and on first-viewing will look like a sea of dollar signs and <?php tags, but once you get used to them, it’s really quite easy to write.

It’s useful to note that it's weakly-typed, meaning you can change data type much like you would using JavaScript, and don’t need to declare the type at the time the variable is declared. This might not be the be-all and end-all, but it certainly makes learning it less taxing for beginners, though could result in them learning some bad habits further down the line.


PHP, in many ways, doesn’t help itself. It might have a (somewhat unfair) reputation for being a little old-school, but this impression is only further added to by how it styles itself. The official website looks quite old-fashioned, and it has consistently used the same logo since its creation.

Neither of these are particularly out-of-the-ordinary compared to others on the list, but then again, many of the others don’t half the reputation PHP has to fight against.

With this said, PHP is quite well-maintained, with new versions going through a rigorous testing process before they are pushed to the main branch, but this has resulted in a very slow release cycle.

Perhaps it's to be expected from a language as well-established as PHP, with so many systems reliant upon it. On the one hand, it’s a good thing for newbie PHP developers, who can take their time learning it, knowing any changes are likely only to come once a year (on average), and then the current version will be fully-supported for two years following its release.

All in all, it does largely look after itself, but with so few updates (and when they do occur, they often lack any new features), this one scores low for maintenance.


PHP is primarily a backend language, used extensively in server-side web development, providing the core code powering systems like Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal. While PHP is not used for frontend development, it can be integrated with frontend technologies to create dynamic web applications, and its integration into Wordpress alone increases its versatility quite significantly.

Having said this, it's important that we recognise the limitation that PHP brings, as developers learning it in 2024 cannot easily translate what they've learned across a frontend technology, and so therefore would be required to pick something else up to pair with their PHP skills. For this reason, PHP drops down a point or two for versatility. 

Job prospects

Despite the reputation, PHP isn’t going away. W3Techs suggests 8/10 of all websites use PHP in some form. While PHP may not appear to be the most attractive option for a newbie at first, it  continues to offer developers opportunities in terms of roles and is in high-demand, often paying well, too (though finding concrete data on this has proven difficult).

It is worth noting, however, that PHP scores quite low in terms of the enjoyment people get from writing it. In fact, in a Stack Overflow survey from 2020, only 37.3% of developers who have used it would look to do so again. Now, of course salary is important, but that does perhaps speak of some issues with the language that mean developers don’t enjoy working with it.

  • Syntax Readability: 7/10
  • Maintenance and Support: 6.5/10
  • Versatility: 5.5/10
  • Job Market Trends: 8/10

Overall: 6.8 / 10


If we go by the ratings alone, at this point we would declare Python to be the best option for those learning to code in 2024. However, this article has shown there is far more to take into consideration when trying to decide which one is right for you, and your future.

Python scored well across each category, but might not be the best choice for someone looking to break into web development. JavaScript can boast of having the title of most popular language overall, and despite being versatile might not be the best route to go down if you’re a budding data scientist or want to work with Ai. Java is a safe bet, but its complex syntax brings with it a steep learning curve, and is largely limited to backend. Rust is a promising language,  but its lack of maturity means we don’t know exactly what its future holds, and PHP might be a little stagnant for those looking for a fast-paced ecosystem to operate within.

While each language is different, whichever one you choose will help you to pick up other languages in future. You’ll learn concepts, mental models, terminology and approximate syntax that you’ll be able to use in future, even if you switch languages further down the line.

To end, here are some additional tips for choosing a programming language to learn:

  • Consider which area of tech interests you most, as some languages are more versatile than others
  • Think about your career goals, do you want something used in one particular area, or one that gives you flexibility to pivot?
  • Research the job market to understand which languages are in-demand in your area.
  • Watch tutorials and read the docs to understand the features that each language has, and which one attracts you the most.

Which language do you think is best to learn in 2024? Do you have one we didn’t feature on the list? Follow us on X and let us know what you think!

The Best Programming Language for Beginners to Learn in 2024

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