Veronica Jimenez brought the Hour of Python to Spanish Speakers

Designer Veronica Jimenez is the awesome person who translated our Hour of Python activity into Spanish, which you can see here.  In this interview, she discusses how she came to her career, the experience of translating our site, and the challenges of learning to code in a second (or third!) language like she did.

You can find other interviews in our interview series here.

Veronica Jimenez
Veronica Jimenez

How did you get involved with the tech industry? What are you doing now?

I’ve always been interested in photography. I wanted to use my creativity to create something people could use in their daily lives. This is why design became something I needed to do.

You did an amazing job translating for us. Can you talk a little about how you came to be multi-lingual and how it’s influenced your career?

I’m originally from Mexico, so Spanish is my native language. I learned English while traveling through Europe and also took some French classes for a couple of years. I’ve actually found English being my second language made it harder to break into the tech industry.

Tina la Tortuga by Veronica Jiminez
Tina la Tortuga by Veronica Jimenez

We were all excited to hear that groups in Puerto Rico have been using your course to introduce students to Python. What other resources, if any, would you suggest for Spanish speaking students?

I feel there should be better resources in Spanish. When I was learning I didn’t have much luck finding articles or even books. One of my favorite front-end playgrounds is Codepen. I’ve also taken a couple of courses from Treehouse.

Participants in Puerto Rico's first Code Jam
Participants in Puerto Rico’s first Code Jam used Veronica’s translation to learn Python

What advice would you give teachers or students considering making a code a part of their classroom experience?

I think you have to know the weaknesses and strengths of the group you are teaching, people have different ways of learning. For me when I learned HTML I had to take it twice, because it was the first time I had taken code and didn’t have any idea how the web really worked. It felt so strange to me.

Are there any groups or resources you’ve found particularly helpful that you’d recommend to others looking to follow in your footsteps in the tech industry?

Going to meet ups is one great resource to meet people who are in similar situations. I’d also recommend being open, patient and working hard towards your goals.

That’s it for this interview.  Want more?  Check out the archives of our other interviews here.

As a final treat, and in celebration of Trinket’s new support for images that Brian announced yesterday, here’s a trinket of Veronica’s Tina that you can control using your arrow keys! Enjoy!

Ram Rachum and his PythonTurtle project

This week we have a very special interviewee.  Israeli software developer Ram Rachum started PythonTurtle as a side project in 2009.  Focused on giving students and easy and fun introduction to real code centered around Python’s Turtle module, the downloadable Mac and Windows program is being used in classrooms around the world to get students hands-on with code.  In this interview Ram shares how he got started with PythonTurtle and some of the design philosophy behind the project.

Ram Rachum
Ram Rachum

This is part of a periodic interview series we’re doing with innovators in coding education.  You can find the other interviews in the series here.

Elliott: First of all, tell us a little about your background.  How did you get into programming?


Ram: I was always interested in computers when I was a child. Fortunately my parents noticed and appreciated that interest, and when I was in third grade they hired a private tutor to teach me programming using the BASIC language. I didn’t know any kind of programming, and that tutor taught me everything from the ground up.  Eventually I was able to write simple programs and games, all in BASIC. I was very excited in anticipation for every lesson, and gulped everything that he had to say.

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Building a Smarter Python Editor

Teachers and students from all over the world are using our Python trinket to write code in their CS, Math and Science classes. As we’ve visited classrooms using Trinket, we’ve heard requests for an even smarter python editor that helps students learn as they code. There are plenty of tutorials out there, but Trinket students and teachers want help making their own code projects, not just pre-cut examples.

So over the past few weeks we’ve quietly added key features to make our Python trinket more helpful for beginning coders. These updates include

  • Auto-complete. Inspired by Bret Victor’s idea of “creating by reacting”, Trinket’s autocomplete is designed to help students see what’s possible in Python as they code.
  • In-Editor Explanations. Python’s 20-some keywords, like if, for, def, and import, form the core of the language.  Our new contextual explanations help students learn what they are and how they’re used, right from the editor.
  • Highlighted Errors. We’ve learned that simple typos are the second most common source of error for students.  By highlighting them early, we prevent frustrating errors as students code, similar to how red sqwiggly lines help writers catch spelling errors early.

We’ve got many more exciting ideas in the works.  In the meantime, we hope these three new features help make Trinket an even more indispensable tool for coding in the classroom. Read on for a brief description of each new feature.

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JavaScript in HTML trinkets

When we first released our HTML trinkets last Fall, we were excited about providing the opportunity for teachers to teach the web. Of course HTML helps build an understanding of how to properly structure web pages and with inline CSS you can easily style pages. This separation of concerns is critical to creating basic web pages. As anyone who has put together a web site in recent memory knows though, JavaScript is the special sauce for creating engaging, dynamic sites. Today, we’ve released functionality that lets you not only use JavaScript in HTML trinkets, you can also utilize our tabbed interface to separate HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into their own files. Today you can truly teach the web using Trinket!

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