Resources for Immigrants Learning to Code

Immigrants face many barriers when attempting to adjust their lives to a new country. Not only do they face major culture shock, they also face issues trying to master a new system and overcome economic difficulties. In an attempt to attain a better quality of life, immigrants look for steady employment or attend school.

Currently, a great career path with many options include coding jobs. Compared to other occupations such as nursing, jobs in software development takes much less schooling and can help individuals land a well-paying job quickly. How exactly can an immigrant learn to code and land these lucrative jobs? Explore the resources below!

Local Resources

One of the best ways an immigrant can start their software development journey is to start with local resources especially if money is tight.

A major barrier to entry in learning to code is steady access to a computer and the Internet along with the latest coding books. One of the best places to get access to these is the local library. Many libraries throughout the country offer both free internet and computer access. To get access to these resources, all that is needed is to get a library card that may be free or low cost depending on the location. Once cards are issued, users can either bring their own laptop to get online or use the library's freely available computers.

With access to the Internet, immigrants can take advantage of freely available coding articles, video tutorials, or low-cost online courses which can teach coding fundamentals. Another great resource from the library is the library's own collection of technical books. Even if the books are dated, they still have fundamental information applicable to current programming languages.

Besides libraries, other excellent local resources to learn coding are community colleges. Unlike their university counterparts, community colleges have less costly courses that introduce coding basics. These courses introduce building blocks and provide hands-on experience crucial to mastering advanced courses. Some colleges even offer an associates degree in computer science which is a step in the right direction for landing a development job.

In addition to libraries and colleges, other local organizations may offer free classes in the local area for software development. For example, Code the Dream offers free training for mobile phone and web software development for immigrants in the Durham, North Carolina area. The group is sponsored by major technology companies such as Google and meets a few times a week. Another program called New Americans Code also targets immigrants. Though these programs may be outside their local area, immigrants should try to find similar programs in their city.

Online Resources

Though local resources can provide a great way to learn about software development, they often required a physical presence during specific times. Immigrants often must work to support themselves so making every class may prove difficult. Some alternatives include online resources which allow immigrants to learn at their own pace and help meet the demands of life and work.

Coding Tutorials for Immigrants

Many of the resources online do not target immigrants. However, immigrants who want to learn code should take a look at some basic tutorials that give a great starting point including some online coding tutorials for children.

  • Open University's An Introduction to Software Development course provides a free introduction to the concept of software creation from an engineering perspective. This is a great starting point for immigrants thinking about pursuing a software engineering or computer science degree.
  • Code Conquest's Coding Introduction Tutorial gives the beginner a definition of coding and provides a high-level overview of web development, web design, and mobile applications.
  • Introduction to Computer Programming by TutorialsPoint gives a thorough introduction to many coding concepts suitable for immigrants. It walks through all the basics of programming and illustrates examples with C++. Many topics are covered including syntax, data types, and software compilation.
  • What is Computer Programming? is a detailed tutorial on the basics of computer programming by Guy Haas. It covers a ton of topics that explain the fundamentals of coding and the basic process involved in creating software. Some of the topics covered include high-level programming languages, low-level languages, bits, and debugging.
  • Code Monster Interface: Though this is a tool aimed toward kids, immigrants can use this platform to learn the fundamentals of coding through hands-on experience. This website shows the visitor two sections. The box on left is where the code is written while the section on the right shows the results. Visitors can select different lessons to see features of the programming language used. They can also change the code and immediately see the effect of their changes.
  • The Web Design Tutorial by provides a thorough introduction to web development. The tutorial covers basic concepts such as hosting plans and teaches basic HTML, javascript, and CSS to help beginners including immigrants learn how to create basic websites.
  • Learn to Code HTML and CSS is a tutorial by Shay Howes that teaches beginners basic web design using HTML and CSS. This is an ideal source of knowledge for immigrants since this tutorials covers many concepts including basic syntax and prepares them for jobs in the lucrative web design field.
  • Beginners PHP Tutorial From Home and Learn is a complete PHP tutorial suitable for both beginners and immigrants. It walks through all aspects of the language including basic server setup on Windows and execution of PHP programs along with syntax. Since PHP is used for development of many popular platforms such as WordPress, it has high demand and is an ideal skill for immigrants to learn.

Video Tutorials

Another great way to learn coding basics is to watch video lessons. Immigrants who want to understand coding basics should take a look at the video tutorials listed below.

  • Introduction to Programming - Basics is a video lesson by the TDChannel which walks the viewer through the features present in many programming languages. The video covers topics such as the need for coding and data types. This serves as an excellent introduction for anyone serious about coding.
  • Learn the Basics of Coding is a video introduction to coding basics presented by LifeHacker. The video demonstrates how beginners can select the appropriate programming language and get started creating programs. It emphasizes that it is important outline a project then learn the code to complete the project.
  • How to Learn to Code (The 3 Main Ways) outlines ways anyone can learn to code. The paths discussed include getting a degree, attending a boot-camp, and learning by oneself. The video examines each path and presents the pros and cons of each. It is ideal for immigrants who want to understand their options to learn coding.
  • Learn the Basics of Any Programming argues that it is possible to learn any programming language because of common features such as variables, flow control, and scope. This is an excellent resource for immigrants because the video gives a great introduction to coding fundamentals and provides examples. The concepts presented in this video lay the foundation for learning any programming language.

Online Courses

To help understand coding concepts, immigrants can take basic coding classes online or select a course on a particular programming language. Online courses can either be free or paid but give a great deal of flexibility over in-person classes. Check out some great online courses below.

  • Introduction to Programming Level I is a course on Udemy which takes students through various coding exercises using HTML, Python, and CSS. Students get to see immediate results and build on their knowledge through exercises. The course also introduces many programming concepts including use of variables and the command line. This course is definitely a great, low-cost resource for immigrants wanting to learn coding.
  • Kids Coding - Introduction to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is another introductory course aimed toward teaching programming concepts to children. Kids get introduced to variables, loops, and arrays among other fundamentals. These concepts are then reinforced with programming exercises utilizing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Though the course targets children, it is still provides a fun and low-cost introduction to coding for immigrants.
  • Codecademy provides a high quality and free resource for immigrants who want to learn web development languages. This resource features several courses in various programming languages including HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript. Many of the courses provided are free and include code examples. Students can modify code and see results instantly while taking lessons without having to setup their own environment.
  • Learn to Program: The Fundamentals is an online course on Coursera that teaches programming to beginners through Python. Students of the course are introduced to various concepts and demonstrate their mastery through exercises. Though some parts of the course can be viewed for free, students who pay fees to enroll in the course will get their assignments graded and earn a certificate. This provides a great starting point for immigrants who want to understand coding basics.
  • Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python is a free course offered through MITx that introduces coding concepts. The course covers a wide range of topics and includes video lectures and programming assignments that use Python. If students are willing to pay extra, they can earn a "verified certificate" or earned course credits through a university partner (not necessarily MIT).

Online Forums

The best way for anyone, including immigrants, to learn about coding is to implement projects using the target programming language. Often, people run into trouble when trying to resolve issues with their code or setup their own environments. Getting help from others will help ease frustration and fill in knowledge gaps. A great way to resolve issues and get help is through the forums below. Simply register at these sites to post a question or search through the questions answered.


Many introductory books on coding provide an inexpensive way to master programming features and give examples in languages such as C++, Java, or Python. Though some of the books are geared toward children, they are still a great starting point especially for immigrants who may not have basic computer knowledge.

  • Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming (2012), by Jason Biggs, provides an excellent introduction to coding using the currently popular Python language. He illustrates programming language features in a fun way for kids through colorful drawings and funny examples. Though the book may seem kiddish, it is also a great book for adults who are not familiar with programming.
  • Coding for Dummies (2016), by Nikhil Abraham, is part of the Dummies series of books which provides an introduction to coding that is tailored to individuals with no coding experience. The book explores some concepts and introduces them using programming languages such as HTML, Ruby, and Python. The idea behind the book is to help individuals write simple examples and see quick results.
  • Learning to Program (2014), by Steven Foote, is a book written by a self-taught programmer himself who currently develops web applications. In the book, Foote covers many aspect of programming including writing functions, testing programs, programming automation, and creating code that is easy to read. The goal is to get people started on the road to software development even if they are confused on where to start.
  • Beginning Programming All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies (2008), by Wallace Wang, covers many coding concepts and introduces the reader to several programming languages including C and Basic. It is a general book that does not go into much technical details and is ideal for the immigrant with no coding background.

Is Coding Worth Learning?

The resources above are a great starting point for immigrants to learn about the basics of coding. Though some of the concepts are difficult to master, learning to code is worth the time and effort even if you don't end up in a software development career. No matter what profession you choose, every industry uses software tools. Knowing how to write code can help you write quick scripts to create reports or analyze data. It will also make you more valuable leading to more stable careers and thus a better life, which is what all immigrants strive for.

Further Reading and Resources

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