Learning to Code in Localized Programming Languages

Learning to Code in Localized Programming Languages

Sayamindu Dasgupta and Benjamin Mako Hill

Education research suggests that learning in one’s local language can have a positive impact on learning outcomes. We offer a quantitative test of the association between local language use and the rate at which youth learn to program. Using longitudinal data drawn from five countries and over 15,000 users of Scratch, a large informal learning community, we find that novice users who code with their programming language keywords and environment localized into their home countries’ primary language demonstrate new programming concepts at a faster rate than users from the same countries whose interface is in English. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for designers of online learning systems.