Currently, there are over 500 programming languages. A majority of these languages overlap, and a large number of them were never meant to be used in a developmental setting.
Which one of these should you learn if you want to kickstart your career in software programming? You’ll be in a much better position to make a well-educated decision about this when you know which are the easiest and hardest programming languages to learn and their use cases.
Learning programming languages will help you immensely when you’re looking to crack technical interviews at Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FAANG), and other leading tech companies of the world.
In this post, we cover the top 7 easiest and hardest programming languages to learn, so you can decide which ones you should consider to upskill yourself.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
7 Easiest Programming Languages to Learn for Technical Interview Prep
What is “easy” and “hard” can be subjective. What we mean by “easy” are programming languages that have at least one of the following qualities:
- Follow an English-like syntax that makes them easier to read and write
- Offer inbuilt modules and functions that can be used without having in-depth knowledge about the particular language
- Are beginner-friendly and don’t require a lot of development background to master
Onto the list now …
That being said, HTML remains one of the basic languages that a developer, especially the one targeting the likes of FAANG, must know. It’s very straightforward, and with a working knowledge of HTML, you’ll be able to easily modify and make amends to webpage codes to fix structural issues related to HTML.
What Makes Learning HTML Easy
HTML is not a programming language, so it doesn’t work on logic as such. To master HTML, all you need to know is the basic syntax, important tags, and how the tags are invoked and utilized. Because of these reasons, HTML is a pretty easy language to learn, and mastering it will give a good start to your FAANG interview preparation.
Use Cases of HTML in FAANG
- HTML continues to be important for all the front-end work — be it webpages, websites, or web applications. The first skeleton is always created using HTML.
- There are different frameworks and libraries for HTML for various purposes, but to know how to use them, one needs to know the basic working of HTML.
- Facebook uses FBML (Facebook Markup Language) for its page creation, a modified version of HTML. Working knowledge of HTML will help you master different variants of HTML with ease.
- Angular JS is an open-source framework developed and maintained by Google for binding data from databases to the front-end.
- React JS, another popular JS framework, is developed and maintained by Facebook. React Native is also a very powerful JS framework introduced by Facebook that can be used to develop iOS and Android applications.
C is considered a middle-level programming language. It was developed in the 1970s by Dennis Ritchie and has since emerged as debatably the mother of all languages. The language was developed to redesign the UX operating system and enable it to be used in more systems.
C combines the features of both low- and high-level languages and allows for functions such as scripting for applications.
What Makes Learning C Easy
C is relatively simpler to get the hang of than object-oriented programming languages like C++ or Java that utilize concepts like inheritance, abstraction, encapsulation, and others.
That being said, creating complex applications in C is a tricky task but still manageable. Another reason why C is considered relatively easy, and why most beginners find C as a good starting point, is because it starts from the very basics and builds the foundation for learning all other, more complex programming languages. Further, C is also one of the fastest languages in terms of execution speed.
Use Cases of C in FAANG
- C programming language is often used for working with embedded systems, whether it is scripting applications or drivers.
- C can also be used for creating Graphical User Interface (GUI) applications. Fun fact — Adobe Photoshop, the OG editing tool, was developed in C language.
- Google uses C language for its file system and Chromium web browser.
- C programming language is also used for developing operating systems.
Python is the go-to choice for developers and companies working on machine learning applications. It is a relatively slow language, being interpreting in nature, and therefore, is not the best fit for competitive programming.
However, because of the number of modules and libraries it offers and the simplicity of its syntax, Python has grown to become one of the most important languages of today. Other than machine learning applications, Python can be used for game development, back-end development, data science, data visualization, and a lot more.
What Makes Learning Python Easy
The syntax of Python resembles simple written English. As a result, many find it easier to learn Python.
Python code is extremely easy to read for developers, which makes debugging easier. Furthermore, Python is backed by an extremely active community of developers where you can reach out for help, making the learning process a whole lot easier.
Use Cases of Python in FAANG
- Python offers frameworks like Flask and Django, which are best in business for rapid application development. Because of these frameworks, Python has evolved as an irreplaceable tool for web application development.
- Pandas, NumPy, SciPy, Keras, Tensorflow, and various other libraries help you work with large amounts of data, analyze it, and extract valuable insights to meet business requirements. Python has an extensive collection of libraries for Machine Learning applications.
- Another interesting use case of Python is that it allows developers to turn any physical object simply into an electronic gadget with the help of Raspberry Pi.
- FAANG companies use Python to implement ML capabilities in their products to understand user behavior patterns and generate insights.
Developed by Google, Go language (aka Golang) is one of the most intuitive languages and considered better and simpler to use than Python. The consistent library designs, simple package management, and a toolbox with cross-platform compatibility are the primary reasons for Golang’s wide adoption and popularity among software professionals.
Goroutines, a lightweight thread managed by Go runtime, has segmented growable stacks. That means it will use more memory only if required. The Golang libraries such as netconf and ssh can be plugged into other libraries for improved performance through networking. Plus, the compilation speed of Golang is quite high.
What Makes Learning Golang Easy
Go is a general-purpose language with its use cases and syntax closely resembling C and C++, making it easy to learn, especially for programmers with C and Java background.
Go has a smaller syntax and accomplishes tasks with a minimal set of features. It has detailed documentation, which makes concepts easy to understand.
Use Cases of Golang in FAANG
- Many tech giants, including Netflix, Uber, Intel, Twitter, and Facebook, use Golang in their products. Due to its cross-platform compatibility, Golang works great for cloud computing, cloud-native applications, and microservices.
- It also makes it possible to build applications with auto-scaling and multi-cluster support in Kubernetes using Docker.
- Go language is popularly used in DevOps and SRE (site reliability engineering). It’s also used in web development along with authentication systems for heightened security.
- Tech product companies build and manage scalable databases through Golang’s support. With Go, you can work with MongoDB, Oracle, Redis, MySQL, and more. For example, Medium (the online content platform) uses Golang for managing its databases.
Java is one of the most preferred languages used for enterprise development due to its stability and simplicity. It’s primarily used for application and web development.
In addition to simple variables and functions, Java has some complicated concepts, such as inheritance and polymorphism, giving it a slightly sophisticated edge.
What Makes Learning Java Easy
Considered by many the easiest programming language to learn, Java is also an intuitive general-purpose language. With a class-based and OOP approach, Java is a beginner-friendly language most suitable to teach design patterns to beginners. Prior experience of OOP makes learning Java easier.
Java has a huge active community of developers and plenty of learning resources freely available online. Being a platform-dependent language, programs written in Java can run on any machine as long as it has the Java runtime environment (JRE).
Use Cases of Java in FAANG
- Java is used extensively to create games, one of the most famous being Minecraft.
- It’s used to build Android apps.
- Some of the most popular and widely used websites, such as Google and LinkedIn, use Java.
- Java is also used to program automation apps.
Elixir is a dynamic programming language that follows the functional paradigm. Released in 2011, Elixir is still a relatively new language but has gained a lot of support through the years because of its reliability and scalability.
Furthermore, it is an excellent programming language for microservices and cloud computing applications. The language is based on Erlang VM, a 20-year old VM supporting concurrent, robust, distributed software. Together with its Phoenix framework, you can use Elixir for virtually any application in any industry.
What Makes Learning Elixir Easy
Elixir is a highly readable and fun programming language. Learning Elixir will be simpler for programmers who have some idea of Ruby since both follow a similar syntax.
Elixir doesn’t require programmers to write large code lines and offers libraries to simplify a lot of work. For instance, using the Tesla library, you can implement integration with a provider like PayPal in 20 lines of code.
Use cases of Elixir in FAANG
- Pinterest is one of the biggest names to have used Elixir. Because of Elixir, the company handled 250 million active users pinning more than 180 million items to their board in 2018.
- The Financial Times runs a vast online service that houses more than a million paying readers. They moved from a microservice REST APIs to an Elixir-based API to seamlessly manage their growing reader base and traffic.
- Discord uses Elixir to build its platform’s services. As a result, they’ve successfully managed more than 5 million concurrent users and millions of events per second.
7 Hardest Programming Languages to Learn for FAANG Interviews
However, you should not worry about the languages being difficult. It all comes down to understanding the syntax and applying the knowledge to solve real-world problems.
The trick for learning these programming languages is taking it slow — work on a project and apply the concepts you’re learning in real-time. Otherwise, it might get overwhelming.
Remember, with programming, practice is always the key.
Let’s look at some conventionally complicated languages to learn for FAANG interviews.
C++ is an object-oriented programming language and is considered the fastest language out there. As a result, it’s recommended to learn C++, especially if you’re looking to try out your hands-on competitive programming.
Also, because of its speed, efficiency, and robustness, C++ is mainly used in performance-critical sections of the products and algorithms developed by FAANG companies.
Why Learning C++ Is Hard
Being object-oriented, C++ is a highly dynamic language with lots of complex moving parts. Sometimes these parts interact in intuitive ways; sometimes, they don’t. And the onus is on the programmer to find a way around it.
There’s no point in going into all the complexities of C++; you should just note that the complexity is fractal, and you can never really hope to know everything about the language. The idea should be to learn the concepts in a hands-on manner by simultaneously working on a small project to apply your learning.
Learning C++ might be challenging, but once you get around it, you’ll enjoy the speed and efficiency of the language.
Use Cases of C++
- Google’s core search algorithm is written in C++ (and Python).
- C++ is used for developing GUI-based applications like VS Code, Microsoft Office, Google Chrome. Nowadays, people have started using Python, but the importance of C++ remains.
Prolog stands for Logic Programming. It was developed in 1972 and is a fascinating programming language if you’re interested in working with the natural language processing (NLP) aspect of artificial intelligence.
Prolog is extremely useful for creating conversational bots. ELIZA — the first-ever chatbot created — was developed in Prolog.
Why Learning Prolog Is Hard
As a language, Prolog isn’t that difficult. Its syntax is comparatively more straightforward in comparison to C++ or Python. However, formulating Prolog programs is another challenge altogether.
Concepts like facts, rules, and goals make Prolog a complicated language to learn. You can’t thoughtlessly copy and paste Prolog code hoping for it to work — you’ll most likely face compiler errors or infinite recursion.
The core logic behind your program must be spot on, which makes it hard to work on. Most procedural languages being used today let programmers get away with some logical inconsistencies.
Programmers can write long lines of code to compensate for the logical errors and adjust the code accordingly. With Prolog, you can’t do this. You need to get the logic right from the get-go.
Use Cases of Prolog
- Prolog is a highly cost-efficient language and helps companies in cutting down both maintenance and development costs.
- Prolog is a logic-based programming language, so the code is reusable and readable. This is why Prolog successfully reduces maintenance costs.
- Prolog is Turing-complete, which means it is highly reliable and predictable. While most modern programming languages are Turing-complete, many haven’t been used in that manner.
LISP stands for List Processing. After Fortran, it is the second oldest programming language. It was created by John McCarthy, one of the founding fathers of artificial intelligence as we know it today.
It’s called the “programmable programming language,” which reflects its most significant advantage over other programming languages.
“Lisp is a language for doing what you’ve been told is impossible.” — Kent Pitman
LISP is built as a practical mathematical notation for programs and has been a consistent choice for AI developers. Some of its features, like rapid prototyping, dynamic object creation, garbage collection, and extreme flexibility, make it one of the best programming languages for AI/ML.
Why Learning LISP Is Hard
LISP follows the functional paradigm of programming. Most programmers aren’t well versed with functional programming or functional programming languages — how it works, how to maintain code elegance, etc. This makes the early stages of learning LISP a bit difficult.
There are some conceptual barriers to cross because it uses different concepts than what you might be used to, but that’s manageable with persistence. Once you understand the important ideas in LISP, such as how the evaluator operates, how macros override it, and some pointers from the functional programming paradigm, things will begin to get progressively simpler.
Use Cases of LISP
- LISP operates on the philosophy that what works best for the designer works best for the developers. So, working in LISP allows developers to add any feature they find missing from the language and use it in their application.
- LISP allows programmers to clearly map out their ideas with how the program actually works. This makes for easy maintainability of code.
- LISP offers dynamic typing, allowing developers to spend more time working on the code and less time dealing with the compiler. It also provides conditional systems that let developers develop interactive error handling codes.
Haskell is named after Haskell Brooks Curry, the famous mathematician. It was introduced in 1990 and is a statically-typed functional programming language, offering shorter code lines.
Haskell is highly efficient in handling errors, and therefore, is considered a safe programming language. Most non-syntactical errors are caught during compile time itself instead of runtime.
Some key features of Haskell include:
- Strong abstraction abilities
- Extreme code reusability
- Fewer lines of code, greater code understanding
- Built-in memory management
These, and other features offered by Haskell, improve the productivity of the programmer. While a niche set of developers currently use it, it has the potential to compete with other languages for AI if given more recognition.
Why Learning Haskell Is Hard
Again, the difficulty in learning Haskell arises from the fact that it’s a functional programming language. But even among other functional languages, Haskell is challenging because of its abstractness, purity, terse syntax, and the use of one-letter identifier names.
These are also the things that add to Haskell’s overall strengths, but they also make it challenging to learn and master.
Use Cases of Haskell
- Haskell goes very well with C. The companies working with the C language on any application generally use Haskell as a powerful tool to write C.
- Haskell pushes programmers to expand their thinking horizons and think about programming challenges in a different way. With Haskell, developers spend more time thinking about the problem and less time coding it.
- Higher-order abstractions in Haskell offer developers a neater way to express the computations they need to perform.
- For developers dealing with data, Haskell teaches them to think more clearly about what they’re dealing with. Haskell supports algebraic data types to encourage developers to think about all the possible things, and for each, what are its parts.
5. Assembly Language (ASM)
Assembly Language is an umbrella term used to refer to low-level code that represents native machine code for any microprocessor. The other languages on this list were syntactically closer to English, and the code must be compiled down to the machine instructions through bytecode.
The code here is assembled, hence the name. You can understand the intent of a piece of code written in C or Python just by reading it. For Assembly Language, this task is difficult without knowing the entire code for context. Each basic operation, including moving data in and out of memory registers, is a complete statement.
However, there’s a reason for these difficulties. Assembly Language is supremely powerful, especially when performance is of utmost importance. Using it, you can perform low-level systems programming. These can also be combined with other high-level programming languages for hardware development or systems programming.
Why Learning Assembly Language Is Hard
As mentioned earlier, Assembly Language operates on different parameters altogether. Therefore, learning as well as mastering it is quite a task.
To begin learning Assembly Language, you must understand how a computer works internally. If you’ve only used high-level languages so far, you might find it challenging to understand how CPU works, how memory is managed, or how to read or write from registers. There’s generally a vast knowledge gap that needs to be bridged before learning Assembly Language.
Use Cases of Assembly Language
- Assembly Language allows direct hardware manipulation, so companies working on hardware tech require Assembly Language developers.
- For addressing extremely critical and sensitive performance issues.
- Developing low-level embedded systems and real-time systems.
Rust is an open-source systems programming language and Stack Overflow’s most loved language for four years straight. Rust provides a viable and solid solution to tackle the pain points of other languages with minimum bitter pills. It’s safe, fast, and concurrent.
Rust offers better control over low-level details and optimum memory management, allowing businesses to save costs. It provides the intuitiveness of high-level language and control and performance of low-level language. Rust is a modern systems language that offers the benefits and performance of C and C++, but without the downsides programmers are used to when working with these languages.
Rust’s features, such as its built-in package manager, top-notch compiler, and ability to work with modern systems, make it one of the most preferred languages in today’s programming ecosystem.
What Makes Learning Rust Hard
The steep learning curve of Rust can be attributed to its syntax, macrosystem, and the different approach it adopts with regard to some basic concepts. Although efficient memory management is one of its biggest advantages, it can take some time to wrap your head around a compiler that’s reminding you about memory constantly. And it has multiple packages that do exactly the same thing.
Having said that, if you spend some time with Rust and get a grip on it, you’re more likely to fall in love with the language just like many other programmers.
Use Cases of Rust
- Businesses such as Mozilla, Postmates, Dropbox, and many more use Rust in production.
- Rust is used to build a wide range of software applications such as operating systems, game engines, browser components, as well as simulation engines for virtual reality.
- Yelp has developed a framework in Rust that’s used across the company’s website and apps to perform A/B testing on UX, internal infrastructure, and more.
- Dropbox uses rust for improved data center efficiency. Many components of its core file storage system are written in Rust.
7. Esoteric Languages
There are quite a few esoteric languages that were intended to be challenging to learn and work with. Some are so challenging that their creators find it hard to use them. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
This funny-sounding programming language is as crazy as it can get. Created by Sean Heber in 2003, the language uses 12 instructions, all of which are variants of the letters “moo” — based on a cow’s sound. They look like — Moo, MoO, moo, moO, mOo, and so on.
This case-sensitive language regards anything other than these instructions as comments. Cow language is based on the language that was used in Turing Machine.
Invented by Ben Olmstead in 1998, it took him two years to write the first program in this language. It is rightly considered to be one of the most difficult-to-learn programming languages. The code appears like garbage or a malfunction, making it near impossible to read and understand.
Introduced on April Fools Day (1st April 2003), Whitespace only uses spaces, tabs, and linefeeds to write code. The interpreter ignores all other characters. You can only imagine how difficult it would be to read — what doesn’t appear on the screen!
That’s our list of the easiest and hardest programming languages you can learn on your journey to becoming a better software developer and for your technical interview prep.
Let’s leave you some of the most frequently asked questions about these programming languages.
Frequent Asked Questions
- Which programming languages should I learn?
There’s a lot of information out there about programming languages, which can leave you confused and unsure. But don’t panic!
Go through the list given in the article. You probably know one or two of these languages (if you’re not a fresher). In that case, you should look at improving your grasp on those languages — maybe dive deeper and understand the language’s unique nuances. You can also build real-time projects — this will help you immensely during your interview.
In terms of learning a new language, consider your career goals and expectations when making a choice. Select the language depending on what you want to do with your knowledge — leverage the use cases we’ve listed in this article to understand if a language will be useful to you.
- If I’m new to the software development space, what language should I start with?
If you’re a fresher, it’s recommended to start with C. But keep in mind that it will require considerable dedication and time. If you’re low on time but want to get started with developing applications and learning programming, something like Python might be a good starting point for you. Again, focus on what role you’re looking at and what skills you need for that!
- How important is it to learn a programming language to crack a technical interview?
As important as it gets. In every technical interview, you’ll be asked to write code or solve problems, and in most cases, you’ll be required to do that in a programming language of your choice.
Therefore, getting comfortable with 2-3 programming languages is the right strategy if you are serious about cracking your technical interviews at companies like FAANG.
Want to Take Your Software Engineering Career to the Next Level?
Since 2014, our expert-led team has trained over 9000 software engineers. Our faculty includes tech leads and hiring managers from coveted tech companies, who will teach you what it takes to nail tech interviews.
To know more about us, register now for our free webinar!