Learning different languages

Terry Hancock hancock at anansispaceworks.com
Wed Mar 8 01:12:08 CET 2006


On Tuesday 07 March 2006 04:44 pm, Rich wrote:
> Anyway, my question is: what experience you people have with working
> with different languages at the same time?

Invariably, you will occasionally confuse one with the other, which is
a penalty you already know, I'm sure.

OTOH, it will reduce your bias towards the limitations of one language
over another.

I've been trying to get my kids to learn a little Python for some
time, but it hasn't been too easy for them yet.  Then, out of the
blue, they want to learn Lua.

Why?

Simple -- Lua is the extension language for Enigma. So they want to
make new game levels ergo, they must use Lua.  Motivation matters
more than ease, IMHO. :-)

We realized recently that while teaching kids to program is hard,
teaching them to *hack* is easy. Once they learn to hack game
levels, they will learn, from the level designers, basics about
scripting and then programming, and they'll start to ask "how
can I make this easier?"

Already, my son asked "is there any way I don't have to type this
line over and over again?"  So we learned loops that day.  It is
SO much easier to teach a concept when the student is actively
trying to find out, instead of trying to push the idea on them and
come up with justification for why they need to know it.  This
way he already knows the problem -- I just have to provide the
solution.

But I don't think I want to try to go full-force into Lua. In some
ways it's similar to Python, but lighter-weight. OTOH, I don't think
I'd want to try to make anything serious with it.

Nevertheless, I find that it's easier to teach them Python at the
same time as they learn Lua.  Concepts are similar, and it's not
really that hard to go back and forth. I'm going to continue developing
basic concepts in Lua (embedded in Enigma), and then work with
Python and PyGame to get them making their own programs from
scratch using the concepts they learn through hacking (a project
we've been interested in for some time -- my kids have been making
sprites for a future game for a long time now and are getting
pretty good at that part).

So, I don't think you'll have a real problem with it.

Cheers,
Terry

--
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks  http://www.anansispaceworks.com



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