Students in their first programming course do not come into contact with the SDK code, nor with all the complex features of the language, nor with the whole ecosystem of Java and Scala libraries. Java has an overhead problem because of all the extra stuff that goes along with creating a class with a main, but when you are writing Scala scripts, the Hello World program is one line with println( Hello World ). Yes, it may seem more complex to the Scala novice, but once you fully understand the concepts behind it, Scala code will seem much more simplistic than Java code. With a growing Scala community on the forums, it's not hard to find an answer to any Scala question, which adds to your learning experience.
Scala also offers closures, a feature that dynamic languages such as Python and Ruby have adopted from the functional programming paradigm. Scala is a type-safe JVM language that incorporates both object-oriented and functional programming in an extremely concise, logical and extraordinarily powerful language. Reports have also shown that Scala is ranked 30th in the list of the top 50 trendy programming languages. Some of the more complex features of the language (tuples, functions, macros, to name a few) ultimately make it easier for the developer to write better code and increase performance by programming in Scala.
Companies that have started using Scala are also contributing to the recent growth of Scala as a mainstream language. Last year, in the Tiobe Index report, Scala secured 20th place among the top twenty programming languages, with a rating of 0.9%. All this is not hypothetical: note that ScalaBridge specifically teaches Scala to absolute beginner programmers, and an observation I've heard several times is that raw beginners sometimes find it easier to pick up Scala than programmers who have experience in other paradigms. One thing you may not know about Scala is that it was originally developed at the Swiss university EPFL in an attempt to apply recent innovations in programming language research to a language that could gain traction in the mainstream, such as Java.