Programming Is Language Acquisition: Practice for Fluency

I’ve just finished my third month in the Flatiron School’s software engineering program, and this past section covered the most ground yet in a short amount of time. In 4–5 weeks we’ve covered Ruby syntax, object-oriented programming, SQL, object-relational mapping (specifically ActiveRecord), and using Rack to handle HTTP requests. This section’s project also had us returning to React to create the frontends for our apps.

This has all driven home how insanely quickly you forget what you’ve learned, and how important regular application is for skill retention. We just used React extensively last month, and I already feel rusty! (Which is why it’s good we’re returning to it repeatedly for our projects.)

I’ve worked in tech companies for many years, and I know that the idea of side projects, doing programming outside of work hours, is a contentious thing, and rightfully so. Maybe when you’re already regularly coding 40 hours a week for your job, this extracurricular work isn’t so necessary, but I can see that regular coding is going to be essential for me to keep my skills fresh and to keep picking up new ones, especially post-bootcamp.

I’m looking forward to practicing with the popular tools like Codewars, HackerRank, Edabit, and others, but I’ve also learned that one of the best ways to practice and learn new things is to build projects. Now that we’ve covered both the frontend and backend aspects of web development, I have the tools in my toolkit to start spinning up some projects of my own (and, fingers crossed, getting involved in open source development). Gotta keep those skills sharp!