Actually I've come at it as an almost first language (Basic back in 1984 and then a very long pause). I found that having learned Perl first, I could code very quickly but my coding style was somewhat suspect - I knew what it meant but it wasn't so clear to other folks. It improved when I had to learn C and C++ though. As said before in this thread, a good teacher should help with this.
in reply to Perl as a first language
My main winge with Perl has been the lack of GUI/graphics capability. Yes I know you can use GD and Tk and all that good stuff, it's just a rather steep learning curve for a newbie by him/herself. Tk involved learning yet another language to use it. GD was sparcely docuemnted and took me a while to pick up too. In many ways Java was a cinch for GUI programming. If you have a teacher, this may help.
So if you're using pretty pictures as a means of teaching programming skills, and kids love pretty pictures, Perl may not be your first language of choice, IMHO.
yet another biologist hacking perl....