He was born in Edinburgh within 1 kilometer of Edinburgh Castle, and also close to where Sean Connery was born. "Only he was 16 years older!" Scottish 'sir' and TaalTaal student Ian Macfarlane smiles: "I spent the first 49 years of my life in Edinburgh, only laterally realising what a beautiful city it is. I was force fed that by American visitors!"

Ian is 77 years old, but wild at heart with the cheeky mindset of a teenage boy. He had a career in investment management, travelling the world. After a number of difficult life events, Ian wanted to move forward and he became a diver in Egypt. Ian: "I was so into diving that after a few years, I became an instructor which really was the beginning of my career as a dive guide in the Red Sea. There I learnt my first two words of Dutch, assisting a Dutch dive guide and his group of 'Nederlanders'; 'diepte' (maximum depth) and 'tijd' (time under water). A year or two later I was leading a group of about six to eight divers. On days 3 to 5 there was a pleasant Dutch lady in my group; however on a dive boat everyone rests between dives. Then I met her, Betty, at the dive centre which is usually an indication of departure, because the clients come to pay their extras. We had a wee chat, and surprisingly she was not flying home the next day. We had a nice dinner together and I even got to take her back to her hotel. Aaaand I was thrown out by the security guards, haha!"

Once back in Europe, Betty and Ian met frequently, and they got married in 2009. Ian: "I did try to learn some Dutch more than ten years ago, but only learned a very little bit. Maureen, our daughter-in-law, was my most patient Dutch teacher at that time, she had a very calm way of correcting my speech. But then she had children, and her “Ian time” disappeared – jammer!" With various bureaucratic nightmares and Brexit, Ian and Betty decided that it would be best if Ian had similar rights in The Netherlands; such as to obtain a Dutch passport. So that led Ian to the Inburgering exams and to the Language Institute TaalTaal in Scheveningen. Ian had a most welcoming and informative first impression of the school and he soon started a private Dutch course with Fleur. Ian: "She has the wonderful knack of taking our conversations from English/Dinglish-minus and steering it back towards Dinglish-plus/Dutch! We arranged my exams and with lots of help and even more encouragement from Fleur I did it. The three multiple choice exams seemed to suit me; my wife could not believe that I got a 9 for listening. What I had been taught by Fleur was excellent for me for the writing exam as well. The speaking exam I found much more difficult, because I don’t enjoy the sound of my own voice, so revising my answer was a waste of time. But I squeezed through with a 6. Job well done – thanks Fleur!"

Do you also want to feel a bit shaken, but not yet stirred, like Ian 'the Sean Connery of TaalTaal'? Then you can also go for an exciting language course, for example for Inburgering. No matter what age, TaalTaal believes that anybody can pass! Check out all the courses on https://taaltaal.nl/en/

Free intakes are always available at https://taaltaal.nl/en/intake/ -- new courses will be starting at the end of April, early May. There are Open Days coming up on 10th and 13th April 2024.