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A view across the lake towards the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka
Online English and Sinhala Lessons
Sinhala, also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the people of Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeast tip of India. This Indo-Aryan language was influenced by Pali, the sacred language of southern Buddhism, and Sanskrit, the liturgical language of Hinduism. The Sri Lankan language has about 15 million speakers and continues to grow. Sinhala is primarily spoken in Sri Lanka but is also spoken in places such as Singapore, Thailand, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.

Sinhala has a unique writing script that uses the Sinhalese alphabet. This system is a member of the Brahmic family of scripts which is a writing system predominantly used in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of Central and East Asia. This alphabet is called abugida meaning that consonant-vowel sequences are written as a unit. The written symbols of this distinctive script are used to write religious texts for Pali and Sanskrit.

If you plan on visiting Sri Lanka or to any other area where Sinhala is commonly spoken, learning Sinhala would be in your best interest. If you are interested in becoming a Theravada Buddhist, knowing Sinhala would also be very beneficial. If you want to become more familiar with the syllabic alphabet or writing Brahmi script, learning Sinhala could definitely help you out. Here are the top three websites to learn Sinhala.

  1. Omniglot – Useful phrases in Sinhala www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/sinhala.php
    This link is resourceful if you are looking to learn common Sinhala phrases. The translations are conveniently written in Sinhalese script and the site also shows how the phrases would be pronounced orally. In addition to these phrases, the site also provides links to other sites where you can find even more Sinhala phrases to learn.

  2. My Languages – Learn Sinhala http://mylanguages.org/learn_sinhala.php
    This site provides the tools necessary to learn the Sinhala language in depth. My Languages offers lessons that focus on Sinhala grammar such as adjectives, verbs, prepositions, and a ton more. The lessons are well-explained and contain lists of English to Sinhala translations written in its oral pronunciation and script. The site also offers interesting features such as a Sinhala script keyboard and Sinhala radio.

  3. Lazy but smart Sinhala with Dilshan https://www.youtube.com/user/lazybutsmartsinhala/videos
    This YouTube channel provides video lessons and audio podcasts teaching lessons in Sinhala. While the videos give detailed explanations showing how words are broken up and pronounced, the audio podcast offers lengthy lessons that you can download, listen to, and learn on-the-go. The videos and podcast are useful tools in learning Sinhala because they allow you to actively hear and practice the words and sayings.

If you already know Sinhala, maybe you are looking to learn English. Though Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka, about 10 percent of the population speaks English. English is the main foreign language of Sri Lanka and is primarily used for commercial purposes. If you are a Sri Lankan with a business or just looking to improve your English skills, here are the top three websites to learn spoken English through Sinhala.

  1. Languages Home – Learn English through Sinhalese http://www.languageshome.com/Sinhalese-English.htm
    This link provides a list of Sinhalese to English translations of common words and phrases. This is a good site to practice learning how to say basic words, phrases, and questions. Instead of Sinhalese script, the Sinhala portion is written how you would orally pronounce the word or phrase.

  2. How to learn English at home Sri Lanka Sinhala http://englishguru100.blogspot.com/
    This blog site offers multiple video English lessons through Sinhala. The lessons are broken down into many different lessons. The videos show a Sri Lankan teacher speaking to you face-to-face in a conversation style. His repetitive speech in Sinhala and English is clearly spoken and easy to understand.

  3. Practical English with Sakvithi Ranasinghe https://www.youtube.com/user/hodawada2007
    This YouTube channel offers numerous video lessons teaching English through Sinhala. A Sri Lankan teacher, Sakvithi Ranasinghe, also teaches in a face-to-face conversation style. The videos also show skits of people engaging in English conversation. Afterward each video, the teacher explains the meaning of what the people are saying and pronounces how to correctly say the phrases in English.



  4. Photo Credit: Ronald Saunders
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