Friday, October 22, 2010

Programming as a Second Language

Huh, what, when? I know this might sound like a little absurd. It’s just an idea that hit me. Globalization has occurred throughout the globe over the past decades for integrating cultural, economic and social and political differences. It happened due to many factors among them are the ease of transportation across continents, Internet and of course people learning to speak a common ground language, which is English for the most part. Thus, in school or at work people from many cultural backgrounds learning English as a Second Language is essential. Now, the trend is to learn to speak French, German or if you are really seeing the future learn Chinese. I find it great, but I have another proposal, which is learning PROGRAMMING as a Second Language!

For the most part, only engineers or IT geeks (I love them) are the only people who know how to program. You have to either have learnt it in college or you are interested in it. I am not suggesting though that everyone has to learn sophisticated Java or C++ programming. I studied IT, and I know how frustrating programming might be sometimes. Well, most of the time. This is not the point still.

Now, for everybody to complete his/her job, he/has to use the computer at some point. Print or scan some documents, make a MS PowerPoint presentation, write a report using MS Word, sending an e-mail or surf the net for some information. These are the simple tasks though that when you learn how to do, then you have just turned from computer illiterate to somehow computer literate. Sometimes, at work you will need to use the computer for more sophisticated tasks.

Let me paint you a picture; let’s say you work in Human Resource or Public Relations department of your organization. Now, your boss wants you to create a video for an upcoming event or for presentation purposes. As you don’t know much about making videos, you will be inclined to use a free and the simplest video editing tool available; that would be Windows Movie Maker. In my opinion, you don’t need any programming background for you to use it. But what if your boss wanted you to place the organization’s logo on the video? Hmmm… If you ever tried Windows Movie Maker, you will understand that it is NOT POSSIBLE. You are screwed! Yet, with a little xml programming, you can actually put that logo using the Windows Movie Maker. Those of you who have no idea about programming would probably think, “What the heck is she talking about? What is XML PROGRAMMING?” Point made! Thank You!

For the past decades, the future was to integrate and exchange cultures BLA BLA BLAAAAHH. For this future, it’s different. Now learning English is a MUST and learning Programming is ESSENTIAL. The future wouldn’t just rely on speaking the foreign language of people, but speaking the foreign language of computers and electronics as well. We are already relying on technology in many aspects of our lives TV, computers, hand phones, Internet, you name it. If you just take a look of what Intel, Cisco, Google or Microsoft is planning for the future (within 5 years); you would be a little scared. It is SCARY how our lives have become so much depended on technology. We are going to rely on electronics for everything and we wouldn’t even bother learn its language? Just the basic level; to be able to recite A, B, C, … Z.

I am not suggesting that everyone has to be an expert. Not everyone who learned English can be a literature teacher, Shakespeare or even is fluently speaking the language. It’s a matter of being able to ask for “HELP” if you are drowning in a foreign land. It is to be able to ask for directions once lost when you are not at home


By: Sherwette Mansour

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