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Sender: "Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
X-To: Jim Briggs <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 15:31:01 -0500
Reply-To: Ben Brosgol <[log in to unmask]>
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From: Ben Brosgol <[log in to unmask]>
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> Here at Portsmouth we still teach Ada as the first language to a wide
range
> of students on our computer science, software engineering and information
> technology courses. We believe it is the best language to support the
> teaching of the foundations of programming, especially modularity,
> readability and correctness. We use GNAT because it gives students better
> help with error messages than any other compiler we've seen.
>
> We also believe Ada provides an excellent platform from which to go on to
> teach Java, which we do in the second year for CS and SE students. That
was
> a change this year (we used to teach C++) and seems to have gone well.
>
> We've tried this year teaching Java as the first language for our MSc
> conversion course students (again replacing C++). That hasn't been a great
> success but , to be fair, perhaps for reasons nothing to do with choice of
> language.
>
> Regards,
>
> Jim Briggs.

I am not surprised that teaching Java as a 1st language has been less than
successful, and I suspect that the reasons are language related.  A couple
of years ago I wrote a paper comparing Ada and Java as a foundation language
and pointed out why Ada is the better choice; it's available (updated in
March 2000) at
http://www.gnat.com/texts/papers/ada-java-teaching-comparison.pdf

It is not only "Ada bigots" who have reached the conclusion that Java as a
first language is a bad choice.  Check the April 1998 issue of SIGPLAN
Notices for some papers giving other educators' negative experience at
teaching Java at this level.  It's possible to use Java as a foundations
language without inducing permanent harm on the students, but it takes a lot
of care.

Ben Brosgol
Ada Core Technologies
79 Tobey Road; Belmont, MA 02478; USA
+1-617-489-4027 (voice);  +1-617-489-4009 (FAX)
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