Computer coding is the new English

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Computer coding is the new English

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One day I was thinking about the movie “The War Against Crime,” which was a hit at the Korean box office. In the movie, Choi Ik-hyun has an interesting relationship with his son. There are two scenes in the movie where Choi and his son have important conversations.

Over breakfast, Choi would test his son on his English vocabulary. “What does resist mean?” he asked once. His son, wearing a Boy Scout uniform, responds, “withstand or oppose.” The father is pleased. In the second scene, Choi has sensed a threat and decides to leave the country. Before the escape, he has his son repeat the usual mantra, “English is power.” Choi knew the importance of English proficiency.

Of course, his focus on English was a superb choice. Command of English has certainly changed the fate of many Koreans. But nowadays, a new means of communications has emerged: It is the language of digital programming.

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg posted on Twitter, “My New Year’s resolution is to learn to code with Codecademy in 2012!” Codecademy is one of a number of U.S. companies that provides free computer programming classes. Notable venture capitalists have even invested in them as they anticipate a coding boom. In Korea, companies and organizations are offering similar classes. Why has the computer programming language become so popular?

The best way to learn about a culture is to learn its language. We live in the social, economic and cultural environment based on the Internet and digital devices. Coding is a tool that allows us to understand the digital world more comprehensively. But despite the growing popularity of the field, the world is struggling with a shortage of workers with coding skills. CNN reported last month that each employee that can code could be worth anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million.

This trend offers many opportunities for Koreans. It is extremely hard for a Korean to master English to a native level. However, like English, coding is a vehicle for communication between people with different mother tongues. And it might be easier to learn.

In any industry, knowledge of coding can be extremely valuable. It’s also a great way to enhance logic and problem solving skills. I want my son to learn it, and I know that if Choi Ik-hyun were alive today, he would want his son to learn it, too.

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Na-ree

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