If you are wondering how long does it take to learn Kannada fluently, well it is a very relative question. It would depend on numerous factors. Before we look into them, don’t get baffled by the numbers that you see online for this answer because these are based on the Foreign Service Institute guidelines which is for people who speak English as their native language. For Indians who speak many languages, this could vary largely.
Kannada is a Dravidian language and if you speak any other Dravidian language as your mother tongue, it could become very easy for you to learn the language as you can find a lot of similarities in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and sentence construction. Also, for someone who knows Telugu, learning Kannada could be comparatively easy because they share a lot of similarities when compared to Tamil and Malayalam.
If you are a native Hindi speaker, you might have to work harder than people living in the southern parts of India. For someone who speaks only English, the struggle could be even more as there could be a lot of differences in both languages.
It is important to focus on all the four aspects of learning a language: reading, writing, speaking and listening to become fluent in it. Depending on your personal choice you can start with the alphabet or learn the basic vocabulary for your day-to-day conversations, but as you make progress it is a good idea to have some knowledge in the other areas as well.
In fact, most Indians can learn the alphabet and pronunciation very easily because, with slight variations, the letters and their pronunciation are almost the same. Also, the combination of consonants with vowel sounds is an inherent feature of many Indian languages which is an essential element to understand the pronunciation and further to speak fluently.
When you look at all these things, based on the individual’s learning capability, interest, native language background, time spent for learning, and the resources used, a person can achieve a basic or an intermediate conversational fluency in one to three months.
To improve your chances of becoming fluent in the language in a shorter span of time, find opportunities to speak in Kannada most of the time. Your house help, auto or cab driver, vegetable vendor, local shop owners could all be your options to practice your Kannada language skills. Immersing yourself in Kannada through movies, music and reading material can all help you learn Kannada at a faster pace. If you are a self-learner who has a knack to pick up new languages quickly you can become fluent in Kannada comparatively faster.
For someone, who needs a guided learning approach, there are options like Multibhashi where you can learn Kannada from the basics with a teacher. The best thing about these classes is that you can learn to pronounce and speak from the very first day. You can attain basic conversational fluency in a month. For native speaker fluency it might take six months to a year depending on personal language learning ability and time spent for practice.