Changing Programming Languages for Teaching


Authors: Robert Biddle, Ewan Tempero
Source: GZipped PostScript (65kb)

When we teach how to program, the language to use is not the only decision we must make, but it is an important decision that involves many higher level concerns, and lower level details. As such, the decision to change programming languages is one that requires careful consideration of all the issues.

In this paper we present the issues involved in changing the language we use to teach programming. We first concentrate on the issues that involve the language itself, discussing what we look for in a teaching language. We then discuss the many practical issues involved in making the decision whether to change. The new language we consider is Jade, and the older languages we use for comparison are those most commonly used for teaching programming in recent years: Pascal, C++, and Java. We base our discussion on our extensive experience in teaching these languages, and working with both industry programmers and tertiary students.

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