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Free resources for learning to code

Times are tough right now. If you are on furlough or out of work and looking to learn some new skills, coding is an in-demand skill that could help in your job search, or even get you into a new career.
We’ve shared the list of coding resources we give to students who come to Mayden Academy to become software developers – these are the very first steps that we recommend for anyone who would like to learn to code. And they are all free.


The best place to start is Codecademy. In order, we would specifically recommend looking at the following courses:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. JavaScript
  4. PHP

Confused about what these things mean?
We usually describe it like a house. HTML is the structure of a website – think of it like the walls, doors and windows of a house. CSS provides decorative elements such as colours and fonts, like the decor inside a house. The CSS ‘decor’ hangs off the HTML structure.
What about Javascript? That’s how you get movement. Javascript is how you get things such as animated or interactive elements on a website, very much like getting the doors or windows to open in a house and not just stay static. These three things – HTML, CSS, and Javascript – are what make up the front end, by which we mean the things you see.
The final component is a backend language. We teach PHP at Mayden Academy but there are lots of different kinds. They each have different strengths, but roughly do the same thing. The backend language, simply, is what gets a website to operate, making sure the server, application and database work together. It is like connecting utilities such as plumbing, gas and electricity to a house, with those various outside elements working together to make the house function.
After doing those four Codecademy courses it is also worth checking out their course in Python. Python is another backend language that is particularly useful for dealing with data. It is not a language we teach at Mayden Academy (yet!), but this course is great for learning programming fundamentals. And once you’ve got the fundamentals of coding down, it is much easier to learn any other backend language.


After those courses, take a look at freeCodeCamp. This is a free online tutorial based bootcamp. There are some remote mentors, and a great Slack group where you can get help and talk to other learners. But if you have already worked through the Codecademy courses you should just be able to work through their stuff alone, and in particular it will give you a better grasp of JavaScript.

Video tutorials

If you want to dive more into PHP and like to learn from videos, Caleb Curry’s YouTube channel has some great beginner’s introduction to PHP videos. The tutor is young and the videos aren’t studio quality, but don’t let that put you off because the content is really good. You can also check out LinkedIn Learning for lots of other coding videos. It’s a paid subscription but you can sign up for their first month free offer.


A final resource we would suggest having a look through is W3Schools. This is less of a tutorial site and more for troubleshooting and looking up how to use certain parts of a language. There are some example builds and a few tutorials in the JavaScript and PHP sections that are worth a look through as well.

Have a go

Should you complete all that (if so, well done!), the best advice we can give next is to start having a go on your own. Think of a simple application and have a go at applying your new skills to build it. Ultimately you will learn the most by doing. Start with something like a simple To Do list app and work up from there.

Learn with us

If these courses inspire you, you may decide you want to come and study with us to become a fully fledged software developer.
If you’d like to find out more about our 16 week course and job opportunities as a developer, sign up to one of our online Q&A sessions and one of our trainers will be on hand to answer all of your questions.
Or if you’re already convinced that you’re ready for a career change, you can apply here.