An interview with Sally-Maria Goss
Sally is a British primary English teacher. She has been teaching in Brunei since 2018.
CfBT: Can you please describe CfBT’s induction program and how it was for you?
SG: I had a two-week Induction Program when I first arrived in Brunei. It was a great place to meet new people who were in the same situation as myself so immediately we had something in common. The most useful aspects of the program were visiting my school and spending time with my Mentor. There were some great tips about living in Brunei which have proven very useful in my time here.
CfBT: What do you like most about teaching English in Brunei government schools?
SG: I enjoy working in Brunei government schools because I love inspiring the children to learn English. They come to my class excited and keen to learn. We play games, sing songs and generally have fun learning.
CfBT: Please describe a typical day as a teacher in Brunei
SG: My school is quite near the city. I teach in Pra in a separate block from the main school. A typical day will involve arriving at school by 7am for assembly in the playground. Lessons start at 7.30am. I have 3 one hour lessons each day. We usually have 2 meetings a week. These are usually finished by 3.30pm. The requirement of ‘stay backs’ varies from school to school. However, it is useful to stay at school in the afternoon to put up displays, complete planning, assessments, filing and make resources. I find that I don’t take much work home with me. The day differs from my home country due to the early start and only teaching English Language rather than the role of class teacher. I am the only expat teacher in the school and the meetings can often be in Malay which proves challenging. I have some local colleagues who are happy to translate for me. CFBT also offer Malay Language classes which are very helpful.
CfBT: What are the teaching resources like at your school?
SG: At my school there was a supply of toys to use in teaching. The parents provide stationary for the children. CfBT provide big and little books and flashcards for the topics. The teachers are happy to share resources. I make a lot of resources myself using online websites.
CfBT: What type of support do you receive from your CfBT line manager?
SG: My line manager is always available through email or WhatsApp. The communication might be about sharing successes in the classroom or questions or queries about the curriculum, school expectations etc. I find it helpful to collaborate with other CfBT teachers to share and brainstorm ideas outside of my own school. Often WhatsApp groups are created for this purpose – to share ideas, ask questions and as general support.
CfBT: What professional development opportunities have you had?
SG: There are regular Professional Development training sessions provided by the Local Coaches at school. CfBT also provide optional and compulsory PDs. These are useful as it’s an opportunity to talk to other teachers and to take away new ideas to try in the classroom.
‘CfBT: What was it like to move to Brunei?
SG: CfBT’s HR Department were very helpful during the moving process. They were always available via email to answer any questions. They helped organise my children’s school enrollment and all the necessary visas and paperwork. It was challenging to know how to prepare the children for the move so we made a powerpoint of things they might see and do in Brunei and used Youtube to search for information for them. It was also a challenge to know what to bring with us from our home country. I would recommend to bring any home comforts you are used to especially linen and towels. Also shoes and clothes as the choice and quality is limited.
CfBT: What is life like in Brunei as a family?
SG: The children settled very quickly. The process was aided by the support and routine of the international school. The children love the great choice of extra curricular activities (ECA). They are currently doing basketball, swimming, science club and iPad animation. If both parents are working it is really valuable to have a nanny (referred to as ‘Amah’ in Brunei). They will help prepare dinners, clean the house, look after the children and pets. I would recommend that if you are a teaching couple that you organise any necessary childcare before you arrive in Brunei.
CfBT: What is your accommodation like?
SG: The houses are generally larger than the houses in my home country, with nice large gardens. There are a lot of houses to chose from which can be time consuming. CfBT’s housing department can support with this process.
CfBT: What is it like to live as an expat in Brunei?
SG: There is a very supportive expat community in Brunei. We have met friends through the international school, colleagues who were on my IP, through sporting activities and friends of friends. In our free time we go to the Yacht Club, cinema, bowling, shopping, restaurants, pools, trekking in the jungle, beach and have BBQs.
CfBT: Please share what the general cost of living is compared to your home country.
SG: Shopping, accommodation and petrol are all more affordable than in my home country.
CfBT: What is the food like in Brunei?
SG: Most things can be found in Brunei but one shopping trip will typically involve a visit to 2 or 3 shops. There are shops where you can find imported western food but these are more expensive. Stocks are quite random so it’s best to stock up when they have food that you particularly like.
There are a lot of Chinese and local restaurants and some western ones- although these tend to be more expensive.
CfBT: What do you enjoy most about living in Brunei?
SG: The thing I like most about living in Brunei is socialising as a family. A typical night out will be going to a friend’s house with the children, taking food to share and having a BBQ. I have also loved the travel opportunities around this beautiful part of the world.
Block D, Unit 5 & 6, Kiarong Complex
Lebuhraya Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Bandar Seri Begawan BE1318