It is very difficult to judge the amount of time if somebody asks you, how long does it take to learn German. It depends entirely on the individual, how good he is with foreign languages and how much time and money he can invest in language learning. The environment also makes a lot of difference, especially if you are living in a German-speaking country.
Some people are quick learners and some learn slowly. If you want to work in a country where German is spoken, you should calculate at least one year of language learning to arrive at the level of working there. It is simpler to answer the question, how long does it take to learn German, if you attend an intensive course, which has a fixed duration and an examination at the end of it. At the end of the course you will be able to communicate effectively.
German is a complex language, and even foreigners in Germany have difficulty in speaking the language fluently, unless they have taken some lessons for it or attended a course. In order to use the language for business purposes, or to study, it takes a whole year of intensive language learning to be able to be competent.
When students enroll for a course to learn German, the first question they ask is, how long does it take to learn German. It is a difficult question to answer before the student has embarked on a language learning adventure, because the teacher knows nothing about him, his talent, his aptitude and his will for learning. But after a few lessons it is possible to answer the question, and often one can give a direct answer. For example, after a course in the elementary level, it is possible to make small talk, have a fair amount of words in your passive vocabulary to enable you to get around in Germany.
But there is no fixed formula for it, though there are some variables which could contribute to language learning. If your native language is close to German, then it is a great help. At least you don’t need to learn the script. Often you are then familiar with the culture, especially if you come from a neighboring country.
If you have learnt other foreign languages, it is definitely easier for you to learn German. As an answer to the question, how long does it take to learn German, it is then easy to assess that you will learn faster than others who are learning a foreign language for the first time. A multilingual already has a special compartment in the brain dedicated to each language that he has learnt.
Learning a foreign language with the help of new techniques will surely increase your speed and interest in learning German. The learning strategies that you use will go a long way to help in your learning process. Ultimately it is the time and the money that you can invest which will push you to learn German till the end, so that your goals are achieved.