Python as a First Language

John M. Zelle, Wartburg College:

Currently, there is little consensus about which programming language is most appropriate for introductory computer science classes. Most schools use a traditional system programming language such as C, C++, Java, or Ada in CS1 and CS2. However, scripting languages such as Tcl, Perl and Python are becoming increasingly popular software development tools. This article discusses the advantages of using a scripting language as the first language in the computer science curriculum. Scripting languages are simpler, safer and more flexible than system languages. Python in particular emerges as a near ideal candidate for a first programming language.