A small island nation off the southeast shoreline of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka boasts a rich cultural history which dates back thousands of years, and today is one of the most diverse and highly developed countries in South Asia. Recently ending a civil war which plagued the nations for decades, the doors are now open for international educators from all over the world to come teach abroad in Sri Lanka and discover what it’s all about!
Although it is dwarfed by its mammoth western neighbor or India, Sri Lanka is still home to a fairly large population of over 20 million citizens. The whole country consists of one large island plain located in the Indian Ocean south of the Bay of Bengal. While there are a few major urban centers located across the countryside, the majority of the population continue to reside in rural areas.
Colombo, the country’s largest city, is generally the most popular destination where to teach abroad in Sri Lanka. While the city proper is home to just over 700,000 citizens, the expansive metropolitan area which encompasses it is home to some 5.5 million total. Colombo is the major cultural, economic, and tourism center or Sri Lanka, and the country’s political capital of Sri Jayewardenepura is located directly adjacent to the city.
Because Colombo is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s population, life can understandably be quite fast-paced there. If you are looking to teach abroad in Sri Lanka in a more laid-back environment, you might look into placements in cities such as Galle, a coastal city with a fascinating cultural heritage of indigenous and colonial influences.
Teaching Jobs in Sri Lanka
Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages of Sri Lanka, though as the country delves headfirst into the 21st century, it has begun to make a more concentrated effort to educate its population in English as a second language. Native speaking English teachers from all over the world who are TEFL or TESOL certified can find positions teaching the language to pupils of all levels, from young children to adult learners.
Most of Sri Lanka’s schools are public and state-run, though there are some private international schools where you can also look for teaching positions (these generally demand more extensive experience and qualification). The three main types of government schools where you can teach English in Sri Lanka are national schools, provincial schools, and piriven schools, which instruct Buddhist monks.
As the country begins to place a larger emphasis on higher education, you can also look for open positions teaching abroad in Sri Lanka at a local college or university as well. It’s been done before: Arthur C. Clarke, the famous science fiction writer, infamously served as the Chancellor of Moratuwa University for over two decades after emigrating from the United Kingdom.
Salaries & Costs
Your salary will depend on what type of school you teach abroad in Sri Lanka at; public schools with less funding typically bring in international educators on a volunteer basis, or else pay them a small base salary. Private and international schools can offer a greater degree of compensation, but are more competitive.
Either way, because Sri Lanka remains a developing country, your general costs of living will remain fairly low compared with in the industrialized world. You can expect to get by on several hundred dollars per month. The local currency is the Sri Lankan rupee, which trades at about 150 LKR to $1 USD.
Accommodation & Visas
Most educators choose to live in their own apartment while they teach abroad in Sri Lanka, though often alternative accommodations such as homestays or group housing are also available. Housing is largely affordable across the country, though obviously finding roommates to live with is also a great way to help lessen these costs.
You will typically also need to acquire a visa in order to teach abroad in Sri Lanka, a process that your teach abroad program or host school will typically endorse you throughout. In the meantime, be sure to consult our Sri Lankan Embassy Directory for more information regarding your specific circumstances (i.e. home country, length of stay, and more determining factors).
Benefits & Challenges
Cultural Autonomy. Though it is so close to India geographically, Sri Lankans have always held onto a distinct cultural identity from their mainland neighbors. The country’s languages, ethnicities, and religion remain largely autonomous.
Recent History. Sri Lanka is just beginning to build itself up on the other end of a long and tragic civil war that ran through the turn of the 21st century. The feeling here is one of great hope and promise of a bright future.
Experience Teaching. Regardless of if you plan on making a career in education or if this is more a solitary adventure, the experience of teaching abroad in Sri Lanka will prove a tremendous growth experience, and one that will always stay with you.