“The innovation distinguishes between leader and a follower” - Steve Jobs
According to a study of 20,000 CodinGame users, 35% of programmers taught themselves and 1 in 3 developers code for more than an hour a day outside of work or school.
You can teach yourself to code from books and online video tutorials but it’s much easier to learn with a dedicated tutor and tailored lessons.
So what is a typical programming lesson like? Is it that different from a typical maths, science, or English lesson?
You’ll find out in this article!
Lesson One: Clearing Things Up
The first thing you’ll do is meet your tutor either in-person or online.
Much like with a study skills tutorial or a maths class, your tutor will use the first lesson or meeting to outline the rules, how they like to work, how they’ll help you, and see what level you’re at.
The first session is rarely reflective of what your typical tutorials will be like. Your tutor will want to know what your goals are.
What do you want out of your private coding tutorials?
They’ll need this information to plan the lessons and ensure they’re what you’re after. They’ll also think about how many lessons you’ll need and how long your lessons will need to be.
This first session is about getting to know each other and working out what’s best for both parties. The working relationship is as important as the tutor’s teaching approach. If you don’t get along, it’s going to be very difficult to learn effectively.
There’ll be two main questions that you’ll need to answer:
- How much have you studied programming?
- Do you have any experience with coding? The tutor will want to know your level to ensure their lessons and materials are suitable.
- Why did you get in touch with a private tutor? What do you want to learn? Do you need help with exams, building a website, learning new skills, learning a particular programming language (Java, Python, C, etc.), or starting a new career?
- What is your schedule like? Would you prefer intensive lessons or ongoing tuition over several years?
- Is there a particular grade or score that you need to get?
- Where would you like the lessons to take place? At home, over webcam, at the tutor’s house, outdoors?
At the end of this first meeting, you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not this tutor is right for you. The tutor can then schedule the lessons and establish learning objectives based on your availability. This will allow them to effectively track your progress.
The Theory Side of Your Private Programming Tutorials
Coding is one of those subjects where you learn much more by doing. Nevertheless, there is a theory side to it that you’ll have to study so that you know what you’re learning when you’re doing it.
Most lessons will start by outlining what you’re going to learn and the theory behind it. This is also a good time to ensure that everything you’re going to use works correctly. This is also when you'll check homework or go back over any problems that may have arisen during the last session. You can ask your tutor questions about the previous lesson before they start today’s lesson.
A programming tutorial will probably be quite different in a lot of respects to your typical class at school or university. That said, you’ll still have to study some theory.
They might present something about a particular programming language, a function, or its uses. There might be a certain application that you’re going to learn how to make and you’ll need to know what it’s for.
Like with every subject, you need a solid theoretical understanding of the concepts before you can start learning. If you’re wanting to create a website, maintain a database, or master PHP, the tutor will introduce the concepts and discuss them, but they won’t take up the majority of the lesson.
Learning to code requires an understanding of the theory but the practical side of things is where most of the learning takes place. That said, having materials and documentation to refer to and an understanding of the theory will ensure the latter part runs more smoothly.
The Practical Side of Your Private Programming Tutorials
In the practical side of the lessons, which will probably be the majority of the lesson, you’ll be putting the theory into practice.
The tutor can show you examples and give you exercises to do as part of a larger project or to practice what you’ve been learning about in the theory side.
If the goals of the tutorial are to complete a much larger project, the tutor may break the whole project down into smaller goals and tasks to complete.
During the practical side, the goal is to learn by doing. Your tutor won’t want to give you the answers, but rather encourage you to apply the theory and put it into action. Learning from your mistakes is a large part of learning how to code. You could learn to write programs, build websites, create games, or manage IT infrastructure.
At the end of the lesson, the tutor will want to check that you’ve achieved the learning objectives for the session. They’ll check your work and see whether or not you’ve understood the concepts taught during the lesson. Now is a good time to mention anything you’re not sure about or bring up any difficulties you might have.
The tutor might also leave you with some homework or reading materials to go over before your next tutorial or a summary of what you’ve done during the lesson or ask you to complete the same task without their supervision to ensure that you fully understood the lesson.
With a tutor, the lessons will be tailored to you, what you want to learn, and what you need to learn to meet your learning objectives. This means that there isn’t a “typical” programming tutorial.
The Lessons will Depend on You and Your Tutor
While a lot of academic support tutorials will follow a similar pattern, programming tutorials will depend on you, what you want to learn, and your goals.
Furthermore, there’ll be a bigger focus on the practical side, especially if you’re learning to code for work or your career rather than school. Much like learning to cook, you’ll learn skills as and when you need them. Like cooking a new dish, there may be a particular technique you’ve never seen before. Fortunately, you’ll have someone there to keep you on the right path and to correct any mistakes you might make. Thus, you can make mistakes when it doesn’t matter and get it right when it does.
As a beginner, it can be quite scary learning to code as it's quite the minefield. Fortunately, a private tutor can help an awful lot and practice makes perfect! Much like learning a musical instrument, you must practise regularly to keep your skills sharp.
If you've decided that coding is for you and you'd like to learn with private tutors, just look for computer programming tutors on Superprof! There are three main types of tutorial available for every subject and each comes with its pros and cons.
Group tutorials are often the cheapest option and they're great for those on a tight budget. However, in addition to sharing the cost of the lesson with the other students, you'll also need to share the tutor's time and attention. This means that you won't have as much control over what you learn and how the lesson is taught.
Face-to-face tutorials, on the other hand, are just between you and your tutor. The tutor can plan each lesson with you in mind and consider how you like to learn and the topics you need to study to meet your learning objectives. As a result, they tend to charge more than other tutors as you'll be paying for both the time they spend teaching you and the extra time they spend outside of the lessons adapting the course to you. Of course, with every minute dedicated to your learning, one-on-one tutorials still tend to be the most cost-effective type of lesson out there.
Finally, there are online tutorials. If you can't find a suitable tutor near you or can't have a tutor come to you for any reason, you can learn almost anything remotely from tutors all over the world. All you need is a decent internet connection and a webcam. As the tutor doesn't have to travel and can schedule more lessons each week as a result, they tend to charge less per hour than face-to-face tutors.
Many of the tutors on the platform offer the first lesson for free so you can see how they like to teach, discuss how they could help you learn to code, and ask them more about their education, experience, and qualifications. You can also view their profile and read reviews left by their other students.