I am a high school student currently in Year 9 who is wishing to learn a computer language. I've long had a fascination with computers and wish to increase my skills. I have tried AutoHotKey as suggested by Lifehacker and have found that very helpful, but I wish to learn a proper language. Could you please suggest a good language to learn?
Yours, Hacker In Training
Dear Hacker In Training,
There are lots of potential answers to this question. When a reader asked something similar back in 2008, we got votes for Visual Basic, C and Python. Our Programmer 101 guide to teaching yourself how to code makes the important point that which language you choose doesn't matter that much: the skills you acquire with one language can easily be transferred to another, and different languages suit different kinds of tasks.
If you're keen to develop code that can run on a wide variety of platforms, Python is a well-regarded choice. If you want a really straightforward way to get started, you could try out Microsoft's Small Basic. Working on an open source project will help you learn to interact with other coders — a skill that's just as important as writing good code in the first place — and TeachingOpenSource.org is a great resource to get you started in that direction.
If readers have any recommendations for programming languages or tools for beginners, share them in the comments.