Teaching English in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (S10) | View map
£223 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months
2 months

Volunteer teaching English in Sri Lanka in a community school

  • Volunteer teaching English in both a large and small school
  • Volunteer in recreational programmes based on your own talents
  • Ideal for those wanting to teach English as a foreign language and gap year students
  • Live in a world heritage site as part of your Sri Lanka adventure
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Project summary

Education is taken very seriously in Sri Lanka and nearly all children up to the age of fourteen attend school. Sri Lanka’s population has a literacy rate of 92%, higher than that expected for a third world country and the highest literacy rate in South Asia.

There are two schools close to Galle that repeatedly request volunteer support. The first is a small school teaching 100 children aged 11-17 (grades 6-13) situated in a small village 20 minutes from Galle. The school is non-governmental and teaches children from the poorest of families. It lacks basic equipment but boasts a beautiful music and arts classroom. Volunteers would assist with the teaching of English, and help provide extracurricular activities such as dance, music or sports in the afternoon. Athletics, netball, football and cricket are particularly encouraged.

The second school is much bigger with approximately 1500 students aged 5 -18. Volunteers teach English, sometimes to classes of 30+ students, but also to individual students and to the staff who are also keen to improve their English. Sport is important, cricket and athletics in particular.

Working in one of these schools would give you unusual access to the traditional culture. By undertaking a teaching project, you would become a central part of the community and would have every opportunity to make relationships with local people and join in with village activities. Over the course of a three-month teaching project you could become immersed in the fascinating Sinhalese culture.

An overseas volunteering opportunity that is ideal for those wanting to teach English as a foreign language and gap year students

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

The school hours are typically from 7.30am – 1.30pm, which caters for the teaching of a full syllabus. Volunteers would work out there individual timetable of activities with the local staff, based on their local needs at the time, typically rotating between different classes of different ages to lead or support English lessons.

Volunteers are encouraged to develop after school activities across a range of sports, dance, drama, music and home-work clubs. Both the need and the opportunity are there for a volunteer to make a big difference in this respect, so some forethought as to what experience and talents you can bring to bear are welcome. You don’t need to be an expert – you are filling in a vacuum and pushing yourself will help you discover new talents in both the children and you.

How you can make a difference

English is particularly important in a country divided by linguistic barriers that uses English as the common language. It is widely spoken by people whose education was based on colonial principles but standards are now lower. Your help will improve the teaching capacity, but also help children practice with a native speaker.

The importance of non-academic subjects such as art and sports is increasingly recognised, but teachers don’t always have skills or time. Volunteers can therefore fill an important gap in the children’s development.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is a wonderful cultural opportunity as well as a teaching opportunity. Galle is a remarkable area, and working as a volunteer in community schools and living in a homestay will help you understand the real Sri Lanka.

Blue Tiger Features:

You will live in the fort area of Galle and travel 20 minutes out to your project each day. You should expect to be the only volunteer at the schools, which gives you the opportunity to have a much more immersive experience, but of course you need to be confident in your ability to work comfortably in this environment.

The staff are very supportive and the fact that you are the only volunteer soon disappears as you make new friends and relationships in your community.


The schools close in the holiday months


The local language is Sinhala, but volunteers will work mostly in English

Experience required:

Experience working with or supporting children in any capacity is helpful. Volunteers need to be confident and assertive with the children in order to lead classes. Teaching experience is desirable, but volunteers are able to learn basic teaching structures as part of their preparation to their placement. Preparation of ideas around possible recreational programmes would be useful.

Good to know:

You will live with a host family in the fort area of Galle, which is a fascinating mix of Dutch colonial buildings and local influences, a world heritage site and a huge attraction to visitors. Colombo is not so far away and there are beaches nearby to act as a get-away when you want to.

Price table

8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks20 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support. Eight hours of individual tuition in Sinhala
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Cultural heritage
  • Take Tea
  • Whale watching
  • Ayurveda
Mr Lokuge Priyankara (Mr P): Sri Lanka Co-ordinator

Country co-ordinator

Mr Lokuge Priyankara (Mr P): Sri Lanka Co-ordinator

Mr P has a degree from Colombo University in Tourist Management and is a qualified guide registered with the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. He coordinated a tsunami relief project. He joined us in 2006 once the tsunami problems had dissipated. He lives in Galle with his wife and two children, close to our project base and takes an active role in supporting the Sri Lanka projects. His wife cooks the best curries in Galle!

About Sri Lanka