I was just reading a post over on whitespace, and it got me thinking about learning any computer language.
It is not enough to read a book and do some examples from the book – you actually need to write something substantial in the language. Granted, it will probably suck, since you would have built it while learning the language. The important thing to note is that it would have forced you to find out and understand exactly how the language works, how things are done, and best practices. The next thing you create will probably be better, and so on.
I am going to use CSS as an example here. Sure, buy that book on CSS, but after reading it, actually go and create a full site using CSS. It doesn’t matter if you need to continually go back and check the book, or the net, or colleagues. At first it won’t be easy, you will be lost, not know what’s going on and generally confused, but if you stick at it, you will find you pick up an amazing amount of information, just by using the language. Before you know it, you will be using the language as if you had always used it.
This is how I learn’t all the languages I currently know, usually without a book, just examples on the net, and a will to learn.