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Learning JavaScript: 9 Common Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

A lot of people try to learn JavaScript and then give up. Then they tell themselves things like, “JavaScript is too confusing,” or worse, “Maybe I’m not cut out for web development.”

The sad part? There was no need to give up. All that was needed was a different learning approach.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common learning mistakes people make and find out how to avoid them. Many of these tips will be applicable outside of JavaScript or even web development, so there’s that bonus too.

Let’s dive in!

Mistake #1: Overanalyzing Instead of Getting Started

It can be tempting to look for all the information you can get before you start learning JavaScript. If you look, you’ll find information about how JavaScript is the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, or that you need to be on this framework or that framework. You might also hear that you need to write JavaScript a certain way or else you’ll never be a “real” developer.

Whether or not these points have validity, nothing is worse than the six months to a year you’ll waste agonizing instead of starting.

Just type one line of code. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be terrible. If you get started, you’ve already passed one of the hurdles that stop a lot of people.

Mistake #2: Learning a Framework Before Learning Plain JavaScript

JavaScript frameworks are built on top of vanilla JavaScript, so if you understand JavaScript, you automatically understand the fundamentals of how to use any JavaScript framework.

However, if you jump straight into a framework, you’ll end up memorizing without understanding. It’s like trying to write sentences without knowing what words mean. You’ll end up memorizing random phrases instead of understanding how words work and how to put them together to make your own sentences.

If you go straight to a framework it’ll be harder to learn and you’ll have a harder time adapting to another framework if you need to. If you learn plain JavaScript first, you have a firm basis to understand all the frameworks.

Mistake #3: Moving to the Next Step Too Soon

One of the most common mistakes is to move on immediately after understanding a concept.

I’ve definitely struggled with this one because it’s tempting to move forwards once you understand something.

What helped was to treat each concept like a new toy; That means taking some time to enjoy what you just learned. Play around, experiment, see if you can do something new with it. You’ll learn a lot that way, and you’ll remember better as well.

Once you feel like you can apply a concept in your sleep, move on. It takes a little bit more time up front, but soon it makes everything go much faster.

On the other hand, if you rush, you’ll end up forgetting and having to backtrack for every little thing. That ends up taking way more time, and it can be discouraging. In fact, this is a common reason people have said they quit JavaScript.

Mistake #4: Not Breaking Concepts Into Small Enough Pieces

Learning is like a staircase: If you can take one step, you can keep taking more steps until you reach your goals. When something is tough to understand, it’s often because you’re trying to take a flying leap instead of going one step at a time. Of course, it seems impossible!

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