If you are reading this article then two things are true:
- You want to learn how to program in Python
- You don’t want to have to pay anything to learn it
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to learn Python programming for free, and in this quick guide I am going to tell you a few different ways to achieve your goal.
Best of all, because these methods are completely free, and you can choose to combine as many of them as you want. Diversifying your learning sources can be a good idea, especially if it doesn’t cost you anything.
1. Read the Official Python Documentation
If you already have some programming experience, you should find it isn’t too difficult to learn the language entirely from the official Python documentation.
While you might be able to learn from the documentation as a complete beginner, it will be a bit of a struggle because your learning will be entirely self-directed and your only guidance will be the documentation structure.
Python is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, and most experienced programmers can learn the commonly used commands and syntax in less than a day. Of course, there are a few extra things to learn and some unusual terminology, but once you get used to that, you’ll find it is a simple language to work with.
For those with a lot of programming experience, this will be a faster learning method than doing a course or tutorial because you don’t have to bother going over programming fundamentals. You can jump straight into syntax and learn how to apply it to your immediate task.
2. Do a Quick Online Course
Coursera offers hundreds of free online courses on all kinds of topics. Currently, you can study at least 2 different courses with Coursera, which are entirely focused on learning Python.
The first of these is Programming for Everybody (Python) which is taught by Dr. Charles "Chuck" Severance at the University of Michigan.
The other one is a two-part course offered by Rice University with multiple teachers. This course is titled An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python.
Both courses are taught entirely online, and both are very simple, even for people who don’t have any previous experience with programming.
These courses are guided and use a combination of video and information slides to present the topic material. Videos are subtitled and available in various languages, including English SDH captions.
Assessment is conducted through a combination of practical tasks, multiple choice quizzes, and peer-reviewed essays.
You can earn a basic certificate for your efforts at no cost, or if you have a webcam and you don’t mind paying a small fee, you have the option of attempting to get a "Verified Certificate" which just means that Coursera can vouch for the fact that you personally completed the course yourself.
3. Search for Free Online Tutorials
There are plenty of tutorials available online and most of them are free. Here, though, you do need to be a bit careful because they can vary enormously in quality.
Not everyone who writes an online tutorial is necessarily an expert, and the techniques they teach you may not be in line with accepted industry best practice. Some people are also not very good teachers and don’t know how to explain things simply enough to help people learn.
To get you started:
- Feed your imagination with this fun tutorial from Thinkful.
- For a more serious introduction, there is a free tutorial presented as a book called Learn Python the Hard Way, which is actually kind of funny because there is no hard way to learn Python.
- If you have absolutely zero experience in coding, then the interactive Python tutorial available at CodeAcademy may suit your needs.
- If you have the bandwidth and patience to learn from video, then there are tutorials.
- Another good university-level tutorial from Dr. Andrew N. Harrington can be found at the Hands-On Python Tutorial.
There are thousands more, so you should be able to find one that fits your style.
Python is a simple language that is easy to learn. It is also an up-and-coming language that can lead to good employment opportunities although it would be prudent to add a few more programming languages to your repertoire as well.
There are numerous ways available to learn Python for free so there is no real reason you should not at least give it a go.
Have you tried any of the resources mentioned above before? What was your experience?