Writing code on a laptop

If you are starting out in the field of Software Development, or looking to expand your portfolio of programming languages, it can be difficult to choose which programming language to learn, with hundreds to choose from.  

To make this decision easier, here are some of the most popular programming languages in 2021, in no particular order.  


Java is one of the most common, in-demand computer programming languages used today. It has an object-oriented structure that can be used regardless of platform because of its Write Once, Run Anywhere (WORA) capabilities.  

It is widely used in web, application development, as well as Big Data. It is also used on the backend of several popular websites, including Google, Amazon, Twitter and YouTube.  


Python is one of the most user friendly programming languages and is a popular choice for beginners because of its readability. It is a free, open-source programming language with extensive support modules, user-friendly data structures and GUI-based desktop applications. It is commonly used for Machine Learning and Deep Learning applications.  

Python is currently sitting on the number two spot in the TIOBE index, with the gap between the current number one (C programming language) only 0.7%. 


C# is a general-purpose, object-oriented language built on the foundations of C. It was originally designed by Microsoft as part of its .NET framework for building Windows applications. C# uses a syntax that’s similar to other C-derived languages (such as C++), so it’s easy to learn if you are familiar with other C languages.  

C# is used on the back end of several popular websites, including Bing, Dell, Visual Studio, and MarketWatch.  


Created in 1990, PHP is an open-source programming language that has been used to build more than 80% of websites. It is mainly used to write server-side scripts but can also be used to write command-line scripts and develop desktop applications.  

It has been described as a relatively easy language to learn and there are a number of dedicated online communities to get support and answers to questions.  


JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages used in 2021 and is essential for front-end web development. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and YouTube all utilize JavaScript to create interactive web pages and dynamically display content to users.  

Although it is primarily a front-end language, it can also be used on the server-side through Node.js to build scalable network applications. It is a great programming languages for beginners.  

Go (Golang) 

Go (also known as Golang) was developed by Google in 2007 for APIs and web applications. It is one of the fastest growing programming languages due to its simplicity, as well as its ability to meet the needs of programmers working on large projects.  

Go is ideal for those who want to enter the field of systems programming and can be used for building web servers and data pipelines.  


Ruby, which was developed in the 1990s, is a scripting language that’s commonly used for web development. It is used as the basis for the popular Ruby on Rails web application framework. 

This programming language has built a reputation for having one of the most helpful user communities. It is also a relatively easy language to learn and write in. 


Rust was developed by Mozilla Corporation and is mainly used for low-level systems programming. This programming language is similar to C++ however it supports more wide-ranging applications. It has won Stack Overflow’s most loved language for the past five years.  

This programming language has the added benefit of speed and security. However, it can be more difficult to learn compared to other programming languages.  


Swift is a relatively new programming language that is used to develop iOS and macOS applications. It is the successor to Objective-C and is now the official language for iOS and macOS development.  

With the popularity of Apple products not disappearing anytime soon, Swift programming is a good programming language to invest your time in learning.  


Kotlin is the preferred language for Android application development and can also be used for web development and desktop application development. Developed in 2016, Kotlin is a general-purpose programming language that supports object-oriented and functional programming features. 

It is an easy language to learn and has the added benefit of being interoperable with Java and supports all Java libraries.  

Choosing which programming language to learn depends on what you are aiming to do in your career and what you are interested in. For example, if it is front-end development you are interested in getting into, JavaScript is an essential language to learn. Or, if you are interested in getting into Android application development, Kotlin is the programming language to learn.  

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Written by Michelle Young