Learning Kannada now a hot trend in Bangalore

Many newcomers in Bangalore are becoming interested more and more in learning Kannada. It’s not a long journey from ‘Kannada baralla’ to ‘Kananda barutte’ these days anymore.

It’s not a long journey from ‘Kannada baralla’ to ‘Kannada barutte’ anymore. Pic courtesy: kannadalearningschool.com

Here is a good news for all “Kannada premigalu”, whose resentment has been growing over years on the ailing status of Kannada in Bangalore. Contrary to the doomsday predictions for Kannada language, many non-kannadigas of Bangalore who were earlier stuck at “Kannada Barolla” are showing interest to learn the local language. The Silicon City is witnessing this trend over  last few years, which has resulted in popping up of many Kannada courses and Kannada learning websites.

As Bangalore evolved into the IT capital of India, it has embraced people from not only other parts of India but also across the world. Modern Bangalore now has immigrants constituting more than 50% of the total population.

While demographic imbalance in Bangalore is rapidly changing as Hindi and English are ascending, thereis a simmering discontent among Kannadigas. The major complaint is about unwillingness of immigrants to learn Kannada. But the reality is, the necessity to speak in Kannada for non-Kannadigas has become almost nil with the massive change in the demography and lifestyle of Bangalore, and of course because of the multi-linguistic skill of the Bangaloreans.

Newfound need to learn Kannada

However, the trend is changing now. Non-Kannadigas are showing more and more  interest to learn the state language. This change has stemmed from many factors ranging from necessity to cultural perspective. Here are some of them:

  • Need for effective communication with the day to day service providers like maids, vendors, autorickshaw drivers etc.

  • For the educational needs of children.

  • The growing Kannada sentiment among localities.

  • The desire of many immigrants to blend with real Bengaluru.

  • To enjoy most cultural activities in “namma Bengaluru,” like dramas and other local festivals like Karaga, Parishe etc., Kannada is a must.

Apart from these, we have some more interesting reasons, which might look quite funny, but are the real driving force for many who are learning Kannada. “Almost every day, for one or the other reason I have a tiff with the auto driver. And they always overpower me by using the local language. So I always dreamt of a day when I can yell at them and give them back nicely in their own language. You feel at home only when you can fight in the local language.” giggles Reema, (name changed) who has picked up the language quickly. Suman is learning Kannada as she is getting married to a Kannadiga and her in-laws can speak only Kannada.

Starting from a handbook like Learn Kannada in 30 Days to weekend crash courses, non Kannadigas are now exploring ways to enter the rich world of Kannada. Apart from Bangalore Tamil Sangam, Kannada Prasara Parishath which have been conducting Kannada classes for several decades, many Kannada enthusiasts have also recently started Kannada coaching classes.

Kannada classes in Coffee Day!

Have you ever thought that speaking Kannada is not prestigious? Dare not. Because, now you can hear Kannada ‘A Aa e ee’ even in one of the posh and happening places which reflects the vibrant and lavish lifestyle of Bangalore. The Cafe Coffee Day Square, just opposite to prestigious UB city in the Vittal Mallya Road now hosts weekend Kannada classes!

For Prashant Krishna who is a Sales Manager in ING life, Kannada is an obsession. The author of three Kannada books, he conducts Conversational Kannada classes in this café every weekend. For those who want to learn Kannada within a cozy atmosphere this is an ideal place.

His approach in teaching Kannada is different, with more of interaction and opportunity for role play. “I focus entirely on conversational skill. Many who want to learn Kannada don’t want to sit in the conventional classroom set up for hours. Here I provide them with a day to day situation which they have to handle in Kannada. Other features like valet parking, Wi Fi, good coffee and snacks are value additions,” Prashanth explains.

Ask him about the amount he charges for this course. “Rs 9999 for the complete course which has total eight classes. It is not a big amount when you consider the place and features we provide. I believe best things in life come with a cost. A best thing like Kannada can happen in your life only with a best price,” he smiles.

“But, if anyone after learning conversational Kannada wants to learn reading and writing then I teach them free of cost. That is my way of saying kudos to their effort.” he adds.

More schools, more options

“When we realised that many non-kannadigas are really interested to learn the language, but lack professional guidance, we launched this school.” explains Sangamesh H, co-founder, Kannada Learning School. Sangamesh and his friends Raghavendra, Chandra and Anudeep, all employees of a multinational company, used to teach their colleagues a few Kannada words during coffee breaks. When the crowds grew, they decided to take it up in a professional manner. Kannada Learning School, which celebrated one year of its successful existence recently, has also published a handbook for learning Kannada.

“There is no need for a reason to learn the local language. I wanted to learn Kannada just because I am living in Bangalore. Actually I never faced much difficulty in Bangalore with regard to the language. So it was not my need, but my interest which encouraged me to learn Kannada,” says Vidhya Ramasubban, who has already completed the basic course at Kannada Learning School.

“We came to Bangalore five years ago, but it was only when my daughter joined school that I realised how important is it for me to know the language which she was being taught. I couldn’t help her in studies. That’s when I decided to go and learn Kannada,” saysSreelekha Sudhakar,a Tamilian, who did not know even a word of Kannada last year. However, that changed when she joined a Kannada class a few months ago.

Reading and writing equally important

While most students enroll under the basic speaking class, there are also a few who go a step further. “After finishing the speaking course, I decided to go for the reading and writing course. Now I manage to read bus numbers, destinations and also the newspaper. It takes time but it’s not impossible,” says 50-year-old P K Tyagi, an Air Force staff. “Now my children have started asking me to translate words and sentences for them,” he adds proudly.

In response to the growing demand, some others have also taken up Kannada teaching as profession and are offering private home tuitions. Within a span of two to three years, several websites have sprouted with free Kannada lessons — kannadabaruthe.com, mathadi.com/learn-kannada   to name a few.

A very popular book on Kannada learning which was first published in the year 1972 by its author N D Krishnamurthy, is still going strong, even after its 12th edition. The book titled Conversational Kannada from Prism Books is finding a new popularity after completing its successful existence for four decades. Also many MNCs in the city are conducting courses in conversational Kannada for their employees.

Kannadigas not willing to speak in Kannada!

However, most newbie Kannada learners are facing an unexpected situation. That is, the inhibition of Kannadigas to speak in the local language publicly. “When we try to speak in Kannada with our Kannadiga colleagues they don’t show any interest to take Kannada conversation further. As a fact, they don’t speak Kannada at all,” says Kavitha, a software employee. This is a common complaint of many non-Kannadigas.

The good news is that, things are changing on this front too. “The younger generation now is not only loving Kannada, but doing much more to popularise the language. This is clearly evident in online forums,” says Raghavendra of Kannada learning School.

Veteran Kannada writer, Jnanpith awardee, Chandrashekar Kambara, is all appreciation for these Kannada groups. “Now these young groups are doing all those works which the state government is supposed to do. From Kannada speaking classes to Kannada software development, these youths are taking great interest,” he says. ”Bureaucrats are the ones to be blamed for the status of Kannada today,” he complains, adding that officials never worked to promote or develop Kannada.

Now things are changing. Many have understood the fact that for a true Bangalore experience, learning some basic Kannada is a must. Learning Kannada has become a priority for those who come to Bangalore to work and eventually end up settling here. So don’t be surprised, if we hear more of “Kannada Barutthe” in the near future.

In the next part, get some tips on learning Kannada easily!

With inputs from Sunita Rajendra and Nivedita Niranjankumar


  1. Girish Kargadde says:

    ” Modern Bangalore now has immigrants constituting more than 50% of the total population.’ – Do you have any data or statistics to back this claim? Could you please tell us, on what basis you have arrived at this % ?

  2. Akarsha Nadaburu S says:

    This seems like an article written just for the sake of writing..

  3. Arpana H S says:

    According to the Bangalore Development Authority, the estimate total population for 2005 is 70 lakh, of which 52 per cent are immigrants.
    refer this link.
    ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore-times/One-crore-in-Bangalore/articleshow/1123446.cms)

    in 2004 itself the Kannada speaking population in Bangalore was 38.77 % . This is State government’s official statistics given by the then Deputy CM Siddaramiah in the house.
    link ( http://www.hindu.com/2004/07/23/stories/2004072310610400.htm)

    Way back in 2001 it self the immigrant population was 35%( out of 5.7 million 2 million were immigrants) according to census 2001. If we consider growth percentage of 46.68 ( which is again census data of 2011) over the past decade, the migrant population definitely more than 50%. But we are yet to get the complete 2011 census data, for updated statistics.

  4. Vasant Shetty says:


    When you say 52% of Bengalurigas are immigrants, does that exclude migrants from within the state ?

  5. Girish Kargadde says:

    ‘@Arpana – In the link given by you it says ..”52 per cent are immigrant….the census gives the ‘immigrant’ status to anybody who is born outside Bangalore”
    -this means it includes the migrates within the state as well. who are Kannadigas. Do you consider them as non-kannadigas?
    – What was being considered as Bangalore in 2004 has increased in size after the creation of Bruhat Bangalore. With Bruhat Bangalore number of Kannadigas has only increased.
    – Has these details been considered before coming up with the numbers?

  6. Arpana H S says:

    ‘@ Vasant, No this 52 % includes immigrants from within the state also.

  7. Arpana H S says:

    ‘@ Girish, I agree with you. immigrants population includes Kannadigas also. and it is also true that with the formation of BBMP the area of Bangalore has increased. But BBMP was not created to bring people who lived in the surrounding areas of Bangalore (original inhabitants) to BBMP circle. It was created just to accommodate the rapidly growing population of Bangalore. So by the formation of BBMP number of Kannadigas will not increase.

    And what about the official data given by State govt about the percentage of non Kannadigas? Do you think the percentage of Kannadigas has increased from 38 since 2005. Actually KDA always claims that the Kannadigas population in the city has drecreased to 30 %.

  8. Vasant Shetty says:

    More than 50% migrants of those 52% are from within the state. I had read a report recently and I am trying to find that link for you. We nearly have 48% + 26% (50% of 52% migrants) = 74% of people in Bengaluru knowing Kannada. This is a validata-able data as even the IRS/ABC circulation data for Bengaluru says more than 70% of news paper readers are Kannada news paper readers. More than 70% FM listerners tune into a Kannada station as per RAM rating published every week. I think this mind game of Kannadigas being minority is at best a myth.

  9. Arpana H S says:

    ‘@ Vasant, here I am sharing a link of a news report.


    It says ” Mr. Siddaramaiah said Bangalore had only 18,57,320 Kannadigas (38.77 per cent). The number of non-Kannadigas was 29,32,705 (61.23 per cent).”

    This was the situation way back in 2004. And it is not some cooked up statistic. It is a official data presented in the house by the then Deputy CM Siddaramiah. Having said that, the percentage of non Kannadigas given above, includes all of them whose mother tongue is not Kannada. But they might be knowing the language. We should remember that Bangalore always had high non Kannadiga population. But, earlier they used to learn Kannada,( Many old Bangaloreans speak very good Kannada even though their mother tongue is not Kannada) But now they don’t, as there is no requirement, Interestingly they are showing interest in the local lingo of late.

  10. Rakesh Kalra says:

    There are a lot of learning options to learn Kannada if one is serious about it. There are also a lot of individual teachers who can teach you Kannada one-on-one. You can see a list of Kannada teachers here: http://www.thinkvidya.com/bangalore/kannada-speaking-classes

  11. Palahalli Vishwanath says:

    Even in the 1950s and 1960s the Kannada speaking population was 30-35 %, Tamil and Telugu speaking people also were 20-30 % each. These three languages of south probably accounted for 80-90% of the population. The Sindhies nd the Marwaris , dubbed Hindi people, were some of the outsiders. With many public sector companies starting around the fifties. people from different parts of India started coming to the city. Increase in engineering colleges also helped boost the population from other states,

  12. Babu Ajay Kumar says:

    <> Seems like we are under the assumption that a kannadiga means he/she has mother tongue as kannada. A person whose mother tongue is kannada then only he/she is kannadiga is a wrong assumption. All over Karnataka you can find people whose mother is like telugu,tamil,malayalam etc but still are kannadigas. I have come across many maratis,telugu,tamilians who speak other non-kannada languages at home, but still call themselves as kannadigas, as they have been living here for many years.

  13. Babu Ajay Kumar says:

    There was a typo in earlier comment.<>

  14. Babu Ajay Kumar says:

    All over Karnataka you can find people whose mother tongue is like telugu,tamil,malayalam etc but still are kannadigas.

  15. Natarajan Iyer says:

    Bangalore Mirror dated Sunday, 4th of August, 2013

    Read the concluding three lines by victim Swati Nigam.
    Explains everything. Self-Explanatory.

  16. Babu Ajay Kumar says:

    Mr. Natarajan instead of preaching kannadigas to stop turning hostile to non-kannadigas , have you ever thought of preaching the same to your hindi speaking friends to stop turning to only kannada speaking people. Have you ever thought of asking non-kannadiga to learn kannada , when a kannadiga is expected to know hindi if he is in Delhi, why doesn’t the same apply to a Delhite to know kannada in Karnataka , that too when they have come here for earning their bread and butter.
    When people are told be a Roman in Rome they accept it with open arms, tell them be a kannadiga in Karnataka ,and you are branded as an extremist ,parochial and what not. I would request you instead of sermonizing kannada, you should also think of sermonizing non kannadigas too.

  17. K.b. Vinay says:

    Kannadigas and Kannada lovers….why can’t we meet once in month and discuss the issue of Kannada and its development……by this we can take possibale measures for implementing kannada..and upliftment of Kannada people

  18. Babu Ajay Kumar says:

    Dear Vinay, enough research has already been done on kannada and its development,Its time, we start using it. Few pointers for you would be ask for providing all services in kannada when you visit a bank, mall, post office, only english speaking restaurants.
    Ask for kannada in the ATM, ask for kannada documents in bank ,post offices,restaurants etc. Instead of restricting kannada to only household chores, we should start using it in our day to day business everywhere too.

  19. Raghu Paapu says:

    Mr. vinay , i agree to your point. To be straight forward with you, with our work and lack of time no body can meet up in one place and share the ideas bcoz we have to see our stomach too. But we can teach kannada to one who is non-kannadigas in our surroundings. I hope this is the only way we have for implementing of our kannada language. I am damn sure we all have friends who is not able to speak kannada but they are interested in learning kannada. So, its our time to teach kannada to our surrounding people.

  20. Ragavendra Nagraj says:

    I may be wrong……lot of Kannada teaching communities should exist…..these community centres should advertise very well about them and the govt. must support them as well……the advts. can be put inside buses, bus stands, public places, train, train stations…….like learn kannada for free on weekends or evenings…….initially few may come but slowly it can gain popularity……..

  21. Kishor says:

    It is really appreciating non kannadiga learing kannada. However i would say this is not the reality. There are lot of people who have migrated from neighbouring states and have stayed in Bangalore for more than 7 years, but they still dont no kannada and moreever they are not even interested to learn. The reason it is not required for them to learn because they would prefer to stay in that locality only where they have there own language speaking population . Even in terms of education they would opt for CBSE school where they have the option of not learning kannada for there childrens. The very good example is the recent survey wherein it was stated Telugu films are seen more than Kannada films in Bangalore City.

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