Teaching English in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island country off the south coast of India.

It has a population of about 20 million from several different ethnic backgrounds. For some 26 years there was a state of unrest between various factions resulting in many deaths amongst government and insurgent forces as well as innocent civilians. However, in 2009 the government defeated the insurgents and re-established control over the entire island which has effectively been at peace since then.

English on Sri Lanka

One consequence of peace has been a rise in demand for English teachers. About 74% of the population speak Sinhala and 18% speak Tamil. Sinhala is the official national language and although English‏‎ is commonly used in government (the island was under British control for many years) it is only spoken by about 10% of the population. By spreading the use of English the government hopes to help unite the various ethnic groups on the island.

As part of this process the island has close ties with its neighbor, India, which has provided schools and teachers of English to help spread the language.

Finding Work & Teaching Conditions

Sri Lanka is a relatively poor island country and pay is low. Basic teaching positions can offer as little as LKR 40,000 or $320 USD (€253, £204) to LKR 50,000 or $400 USD (€317, £255) per month. Whilst this is enough to live on modestly in the country you will not get rich. Flights and accommodation are sometimes paid for by the school.

The qualification usually asked is a TEFL Certificate such as the IWeb  TEFL Certificate. Some jobs will also ask for a degree although not always required. Places like the British Council‏‎ tend to pay a lot more, upward of LKR 210,000 or $1650 USD (€1306, £1050) per month although obviously they ask for higher qualifications and several years experience.

Note: IWeb TEFL offers a part scholarship to teachers already working in Sri Lanka who want to take our TEFL certificate.

Most jobs should be arranged from outside the country. If you attempt to visit Sri Lanka and teach on a tourist visa there is a strong chance that if caught you will be deported.


There are a number of volunteer positions but if you go down this route you must examine them carefully as some volunteer positions are little more than money making scams with prices of some $10,000 for the experience; often volunteer positions demand that you take their own training course as part of the package.

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Posted in Country Guides.

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