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Volunteer Teaching in Sri Lanka

General Teaching Projects
  • Placement locations: Coastal towns within 2 hours of Colombo
  • Types of schools: Elementary schools, High schools, Temples, Community Centers
  • Age of students: 3 - 16
  • Class sizes: 15 - 40
  • Role: Teacher or teaching assistant (English)
  • Requirements: None
  • Extra-curricular roles: Music, Sports
  • Accommodation: Host families
  • Length of placement: From 4 weeks
  • Start dates: Flexible

Young Sri Lankan monks enjoy an English lesson with a Teaching volunteer.

The increasing popularity of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination combined with its economic progress has made teaching English a priority in Sri Lankan schools. English-speaking volunteers are very much in demand.

Sri Lanka’s schools require volunteers to develop their students’ conversational English abilities. As a Projects Abroad Teaching volunteer, you can help without any previous teaching experience and we do not ask you to do a TEFL course. You can volunteer with Projects Abroad during your gap year, career break, or volunteer vacation. You will have an important role to play, working alongside students and colleagues who value the time that you give to them.

Volunteering as a Teacher in Sri Lanka

A male and female volunteer help each other teach Sri Lankan children

Projects Abroad Teaching volunteers work in schools located in small towns along the western coast of Sri Lanka, within a couple hours of the capital, Colombo. Some of the schools are close to the beach and some are even based in temples. The schools in temples offer a beautiful and tranquil environment where you will teach English to monks of all ages. Through working here you will gain a fantastic insight into Buddhism, meditation, and a different way of life.

Most volunteers teach students who are about 10 to 14 years old. The majority of the students speak Sinhalese as their first language. They will often be able to speak some English but your focus as a volunteer will be to develop their confidence and fluency. If a student is able to understand and speak confidently to their English teacher it is a real step forward, and your continued presence will also increase the local teacher’s confidence in his or her own language abilities.

The Sri Lankan school day runs from 8am - 2pm, and is broken down into eight separate 40-minute periods. Teaching volunteers in Sri Lanka are expected to teach for about 18 hours per week, so most volunteers teach around four periods per day, and spend the rest of the time marking papers and preparing for the next day’s lessons.

If you have skills in other areas please let us know. Many schools are eager for volunteers to help with extra-curricular activities, and you might be able to teach how to play the guitar or train the school football team. By providing more than English teaching alone you will become an even greater asset to the schools.

You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Sri Lanka Teaching Management Plan.

Volunteering at a Teaching Placement in Sri Lanka with Projects Abroad

A volunteer poses for a picture in her classroom in Sri Lanka.

As a volunteer teacher in Sri Lanka, you are needed to encourage the children to practice their pronunciation and to get them regularly speaking and using the English language. Their English lessons will often have given them a good grounding in the basics of the language - the grammar and the vocabulary - so you may find that they make progress rapidly. You will see the delight on their faces as they start to communicate more easily with you, and this provides immense satisfaction from the work you are doing.

If our local staff can help you with anything then please let us know. We are always happy to help our partner organizations. The more you can tell us about yourself when you apply, and in further conversations with our Sri Lankan staff, the better we can find the right placement for you.

Our team in Sri Lanka also organize regular workshops for all teaching volunteers. The workshops will provide you with a greater insight into the educational system in Sri Lanka and the background of the placement where you are working. You will also receive advice and suggestions regarding activities to run at your placement.

Whatever skills and talents you have, volunteer work in Sri Lanka will give you the opportunity to put them to good use. You may find yourself setting up a drama club for a group of eager students or helping older students with their math. In everything you do, be sure to prepare thoroughly and be imaginative with your teaching to make learning fun and enjoyable for the students.

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