Why You Should Learn jQuery Before JavaScript

I’ve put in over 200+ hours teaching HTML, CSS and JavaScript in the classroom. With each new class of incoming students inevitably someone will ask, “Which should I learn first: jQuery or JavaScript?” Great questions! I’ve experimented teaching jQuery vs. JavaScript both ways and have come to the conclusion that learning jQuery first is the way to go. Here’s why.

What’s the difference between jQuery and JavaScript?

jQuery is a JavaScript library. If that means nothing to you, then let me put it another way:

  • jQuery is a set of tools, written in JavaScript.
  • jQuery is a way of writing JavaScript quicker (…for doing certain types of things).
  • jQuery allows you to do more, with less JavaScript

Learn jQuery First

For beginners, jQuery is likely the right tool for the job. It solves most problems that a beginner developer (and even more expert developers) have. Here’s a few examples of student requests that come into One Month:

  • I want to build an interactive gallery
  • I want to build a Todo list
  • I want to add a fading out effects to my project
  • I want to add some animation to my project

And for all those: jQuery is the right tool!

Learn JavaScript First

With that said, there may be some reasons why you’d want to learn JavaScript first:

  • If you already understand all of the above.
  • If you’re already super motivated to learn and motivated for the long-run (ie. willing to commit 50+ hours). JavaScript will give you a much more solid foundation than learning jQuery.
  • If you have a desired problem that you already know jQuery won’t work for

Decide to go with JavaScript first, and you may get a stronger foundation in the language. But my concern here (from my teaching experience) is that students who start with JavaScript quickly get demotivated. Because the learning curve to build something is higher.

Learning JavaScript before jQuery is like learning Latin before English.

Is one better than the other?

Nope. They’re just two different ways to solving problems.

Think of it like this:

jQuery is like learning how to cook first using a microwave. Sure, you can reheat and prepare quite a few meals using the microwave, but it’s not really “cooking”. You wouldn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave, right? Having an education in JavaScript will allow you to understand the fundamentals, as well as when it’s best to use jQuery, and when it’s best to use JavaScript.

So if you’re looking to build something quickly, and it’s not too complicated, you can get started right away using jQuery. If you want to do a deeper dive, take what you’ve learned in jQuery and expand your knowledge by digging into Javascript.

Javascript can be harder to learn and seem more challenging up front. That’s why, as a teacher, I often recommend starting with jQuery — because you’ll also be learning Javascript fundamentals along the way!

2 replies
  1. Shirin
    Shirin says:

    Thank you so much for the information. I am really interested in Web Design but I was unable to find which to learn First.. After reading your explanation I will start learning jQuery first. Thanks once again

    Reply

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