Volunteering with us as an EFL teacher will be one of the most fulfilling things you do in your life.

We know it’s a bold claim to make, but we’ve had the privilege of hosting dozens of volunteer teachers from across the world in the decade since we started; every one of them has found a measure of happiness, teaching English to hundreds of students who truly value the experience and knowledge their teachers bring.

Whether you’re looking to make a life change after years spent in the rat race, or want to gain some life experience after university, whether you’re a nomad of the world looking for your next settlement or just someone who wants to make an honest difference in people’s lives, then come and join the SVS family.

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A majority of students join SVS School for English courses in Colombo after finishing their secondary education. Sri Lanka has an extremely high literacy rate, and many students already have some knowledge of English. However, confidence in communicating in English is often an issue with many students, who welcome the opportunity to learn from and converse with native English speakers.

We teach English to students aged 16 and above, many of whom are not able to afford the exorbitant cost of an English education provided by other EFL programs in Sri Lanka. Many students are from rural areas attending university or working in Colombo and they need English to further their prospects. We also have a large student population of Buddhist monks.

Most of our students are Sri Lankan, however, there are students from Korea, Japan, China, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Turkey, the Middle East….the list goes on!

Students are gracious and appreciative, with a keen desire to learn the English language and to pass the English course with good grades. You will be taken aback by their level of respect towards teachers and their fun-loving sense of humour.


We’re looking for committed, open minded individuals with a passion for helping students develop their written and spoken English language skills, along with the enthusiasm to take in all that Sri Lanka and SVS School for English has to offer through their English Classes in Colombo. To volunteer with SVS School for English, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • You must be a native speaker of English and / or have an excellent standard of English.
  • Graduated from university and / or be certified in teaching English as a foreign language and/or have at least 3 or more years of work experience in any industry.
  • Be able to commit to at least 6 months of volunteering at SVS School for English.

Volunteer english teachers will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka, and the school assists in making the necessary arrangements to procure a visa.

It’s simple, really. We’re just a small, family-run English school in Colombo (that’s also a charity), who are trying to do our best for our students. We’re here to ensure that anyone living in Sri Lanka who wants to learn English has a fair and equal opportunity to do so. And in order to fulfill our mission, we need the help and support of like minded individuals to join our team. We need volunteer teachers to join us throughout the year, and accept applications on a rolling basis. So if you’re ready for an adventure, then apply today

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Read first-hand accounts of what it’s like to teach at the Samanala Valley School for English and to live and travel in Sri Lanka.

Our blog, written by our volunteer teachers from all around the world, is filled with anecdotes about classroom life, pictures from trips across the island and what it’s like being a temporary citizen of Sri Lanka. Please click on the button below to be taken to our teachers' blog.

Travel, Teaching & the Tropics



Thank you for your interest in volunteering with SVS School for English. We hope to welcome you to our family soon! To apply, please fill in the form below and attach your C.V in the specified format. Include a brief paragraph of no more than 250 words explaining why you’d like to be a part of our team in Sri Lanka. Once we receive your application, we will be in touch to discuss next steps.

*** Please use the following file formats to attach your C.V : Adobe Acrobat (pdf) or MS WORD (doc or docx)


Student Testimonails

I was travelling in South East Asia when I met a friend of Mr Lawrance’s who spoke so highly of SVS School. The experience was just what I was looking for and luckily I was offered the job! We found ourselves being welcomed wholeheartedly into an extended family of which the school is a key part. Teaching at the school left me with some of the most memorable experiences of my whole travels: teaching Buddhist monks, struggling with my Sinhalese pronunciation of students’ names, and watching people's confidence and abilities in speaking English flourish from the teaching I was responsible for. The weekends are a perfect opportunity to travel to see some of the many sights of the beautiful country, and the holidays in between term dates give the chance to go further afield. A trip to Maskeliya is a must, not only to gain a bigger picture of the SVS Foundation and the amazing hard work that the family put into making the charity a success, but also to experience the contrasting beauty of the country with the bustling city of Colombo. The memories I have will last a lifetime.

Student Testimonails

I enjoyed my time at SVS School immensely, and the experience I had was unforgettable. Thanks to the friendly and approachable teachers and staff, I loved every minute of my time teaching. I not only gained valuable teaching experience and a sense of fulfilment from imparting my knowledge of the English language; I also felt I developed personally on a deeper level by interacting with the students, who continually amazed me during my time at the school. Outside the school, I got to know a beautiful culture and people and I made friends that I will have for life.

Student Testimonails

Volunteering at SVS has been an amazing experience for me, both as a teaching and a learning endeavour. Despite being someone who is new to teaching English, I never felt like the work was more than I could handle, and I was given plenty of support from the staff. Sri Lanka is an incredible island, with a wealth of culture, history and natural beauty to explore, so the location really could not be better. When teaching at SVS you have the opportunity to meet people from all over South Asia, with students coming from countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Japan and Cambodia as well as Sri Lanka. I would recommend volunteering here wholeheartedly. I can promise that if you come with an open heart and mind, you will not regret it.

Student Testimonails

I had no idea what to expect when my plane landed in Sri Lanka. An old university friend, who had made his way from Cambridge to Colombo, had recommended that I come to teach at SVS. Unlike other language schools, he said, this is a program that is truly affordable for the local population - and the local population really needs to learn English. So off I went, ready to make a difference. What I hadn't anticipated was how much of a difference this would make in MY life. Working alongside a dedicated, diligent staff, I found myself faced with students from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and South Korea who really, really wanted to learn. But they also taught me a thing or two. Seb, Mark and the other teachers were there to guide me every step of the way. They also helped me discover parts Sri Lanka I would never have found alone - and it's a beautiful country. Would I go back? Absolutely.

Student Testimonails

If I had to sum up my teaching experience in Sri Lanka in one word, it would simply be: amazing! But luckily, I don't have to. First and foremost, the people I worked with at SVS are dedicated, honest, and fun. Dedicated because; in the 6 months I taught there, not once did they call in sick. Not once were they late for class. Not once did they shirk their responsibilities. 5 days a week, every week. As teachers, we are aware that there will be good days and there will be bad days. Still we go to school and do our best to impart knowledge to our students as best we can. The staff at SVS are no exception to this. What I liked even more about teaching at SVS was it felt like we were family, and some of them literally are. From the moment I arrived, I felt welcomed and valued. Would I ever teach at SVS again? In a heartbeat. To aspiring teachers: This is a great way to jumpstart your teaching career.

Student Testimonails

It’s been a good two years since I said goodbye to my SVS family, yet I still find myself reminiscing about the amazing three months I spent teaching English alongside Mr Lawrence and Mr Mark in Sri Lanka. I had the pleasure of teaching around 70 fun-loving and enthusiastic students from across Asia, some of whom with today. It really is a brilliant experience to be surrounded by such an incredible array of people from such diverse backgrounds, all of whom have their own dreams and ambitions of where the English language can take them. I also learnt a lot about the English language myself during my time at SVS, and I’ve found that these skills have helped me immeasurably when trying to learn other languages. All in all, it’s a incredible way to spend a few months of your life. Enjoy!

Student Testimonails

Teaching English at SVS in Sri Lanka was great! It was honestly a life changing experience which has given me life long memories and friends. I used to work in a city job in London but decided to become a teacher. A friend told me about this amazing opportunity and I thought what a superb chance to develop my teaching skills before I began my teacher training back in the UK. Not to mention the opportunity to spend 6 months in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, living 5 minutes from a gorgeous and peaceful beach. Every day presented new challenges and I constantly found myself being amazed by my students. The work at SVS really is a team effort and we worked together to make a difference. Feeling part of that buzz, that common goal, with the most friendly people in the beautiful sunshine, made going to Sri Lanka and working with SVS the best decision I have ever made.

Student Testimonails

Teaching at SVS School was a very worthwhile and memorable experience. The students were fun and a very diverse and interesting bunch, ranging from Korean housewives to Burmese Buddhist monks to Sri Lankan college kids and workers. Mark and Seb are dedicated to providing a unique educational opportunity in Colombo and made me feel an important part of their teaching team, the wider Samanala Valley project, and even their family. For new and serious teachers looking to get some good experience under their belt then I highly recommend SVS. And as a destination you can’t do much better than Sri Lanka – an endlessly interesting and beautiful place.



Do I need a TEFL certificate or a similar qualification to teach at your school?

No. While teaching qualifications/experience would be advantageous, it is not a requirement to volunteer at SVS School for English.

What is the application process?

The simplest and quickest way is to apply online. Once we receive your C.V. and application, you’ll be asked to complete a small test online, to assess your English language and teaching ability. Afterwards, you will have a video interview with the Principal or Vice-Principal before a decision is made.

What are the teaching dates for the year?

Starting dates for the courses vary each year, but as a guide, term dates usually run as follows:

  • Term 1: early January to early April
  • Term 2: mid-April to end June
  • Term 3: early July to end September
  • Term 4: early October to mid-December

What times do classes run?

Classes run Monday to Friday from 8.30 AM to 10.30 AM, 11.00 AM to 1.00 PM, 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM and 6.00 PM to 8.00 PM. Volunteer teachers will teach 3 classes a day, e.g. 8.30 AM, 11 AM and 6 PM.

Can I choose which classes I teach?

No. You will be assigned the courses you teach (Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate) at your induction, during which you will also receive your class times. The teaching rota is decided by the Principal and Vice-Principal.

How many students will I teach?

Class sizes are kept small, to better facilitate interaction and communication between students and teachers. The maximum number of students per class is 24 to 26 students.

How old are the students I will teach?

Most students are aged 18 and over, although occasionally students as young as 16 enroll after finishing secondary school.

How much will I get paid?

As this is a volunteer placement, so you won’t receive a salary. You will, however, get free food and accommodation for the duration of your stay, as well as a monthly stipend for expenses. The cost of living in Sri Lanka is significantly lower than Europe and if you live a local lifestyle, you will be able to enjoy eating out and travelling.

Where will I live?

You’ll live in a large, modern house in Kotte, in the suburbs of Colombo. The house is located in a peaceful area, not far from the popular parliament grounds, and close to a stunning wetland and lakes. There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance of the house and central Colombo is a 20 minute car journey away.

What are the transportation links like?

As a volunteer teacher, you will be reimbursed for any transport to and from the school. Trishaws, a.k.a. tuk-tuks, are one of the cheapest and fastest ways of getting around. A local transportation app called PickMe lets you choose between trishaws, minicabs or vans while Uber is another popular option. Buses can also be used, while trains are more suitable for longer journeys.

What’s the food like?

Be prepared for spicy goodness! Sri Lankan food uses a lot of different spices, including curry powder, cinnamon, chilli powder, turmeric… A typical meal consists of boiled rice with several different curried vegetables, each prepared differently, and a curried fish or meat dish. At the house, weekly menus vary and include Sri Lankan meals as well as Western dishes.

What’s the weather like in Sri Lanka?

Better bring some sunblock! It’s tropical beach weather. Sunny – and humid – a majority of the time, except for the monsoon season when heavy rains dominate. But there’s always a sunny beach somewhere on the island!

How much are flights to Sri Lanka?

Flights to Sri Lanka can be reasonable if booked well in advance. Once you’ve been accepted into our programme, we can offer guidance on flight booking options.

Will I need insurance?

Yes, it is recommended that you get travel insurance, which typically covers healthcare as well.

How much time off will I receive?

In addition to breaks between terms, volunteer teachers receive weekends and public holidays off – of which Sri Lanka has an abundance!

Do I need to bring any of my own funds? If so, how much will I need?

It’s entirely your choice, but we do recommend that you bring some extra funds. £500 for a 6-month stay should be enough to cover basic spending besides your stipend. If you plan to travel around the island or do a lot of shopping, however, then you’ll want to bring more.

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