Verbal communication can be effective if the student is a native of the language or has a very good command of it. Those students who are hearing impaired or deaf can still benefit from verbal communication from the trainer, providing the trainer is able to face the student so that lip-reading can take place. This is not possible to do on the move, so another communication system would have to be integrated, such as an explanation on the side of the road, possibly using diagrams or using British Sign Language (BSL) or Makaton. When driving, being deaf is not regarded as a disability and the student’s preferred method of reception, although reduced, must still be considered.
Directions and orders
Verbal communication must be timed so that the student does not become overloaded with requests or questions at the time of a heavy task load. Instructions must be clear and concise and allow the student time to process the request and respond safely and appropriately. The proper terminology for giving directions should be to identify – order – indicate (location).
At the end of the road (identify), turn (order) right (indicate) please.
At the roundabout (identify) turn right (order), it’s the third exit (indicate).
Take the second road on the left (identify and order). It’s opposite the post box (indicate).
Please pull up on the left hand side of the road (identify and order) between the two roads on the left (indicate).
Discussion where development can take place
The most effective way of discovering how much understanding your student has of a task is to ask open questions. An open question is a question that cannot be answered by yes, no, or may be and conjugated with ‘What’, ‘Why’, ‘Where’, ‘How’ and ‘When’. These questions need to be structured in a way that the student finds their answers through their own responses, emotions and beliefs to your carefully asked open questions. It’s called ‘coaching’, but there are other considerations to make, since just asking open questions is not coaching.
Trainer: What do we mean by driving to conditions?
Student: Oh, that means slowing down when it rains.
The trainer has asked an open question but the response is very narrow. Does the student show full understanding of driving to conditions with that response? The answer is no, however, the response is not wrong.
Example – same question
Trainer: How do you feel about driving through that narrow high street? On a scale of one to ten, how well do you think you managed that?
Student: It was a bit narrow, that! There wasn’t a lot of room, probably a 7
Trainer: Was there anything you could have done to have helped your judgement of space?
Student: Perhaps I could have gone through slower.
Trainer: Just describe the situation we drove in
Student: It was a little congested with cars parked on both sides and the bus at the bus stop with passengers queuing to get on.
Trainer: So, it was busy. How much space was there around your vehicle?
Student: There wasn’t a lot.
Trainer: So, what were we in close proximity to?
Student: The parked cars and in some cases, the pedestrians.
Trainer: Could you see through all the cars to see the pavement?
Student: I could see most of the pedestrians, but I was unable to see in the cars to see if anyone was going to open the door. All I could see was the reflection of the clouds on the back windows, preventing me from seeing in.
Trainer: Could you have stopped in time if a driver had opened the door?
Student: I doubt it.
Trainer: So, how could we have improved the safety of you and those other people around you?
Student: I should have slowed down.
Trainer: Has there been any other time when you can remember a similar situation that we have come across where you did slow down and I commended you for it?
Student: I remember when I was driving on a road with parked cars and they obstructed my view and we discussed that.
Trainer: What did we say about that?
Student: That if the road narrowed, or observation was hampered, or the surface of the road was such that the vehicle was not steady, that we had to reduce speed.
Trainer: Can you remember what we called that?
Student: Driving to conditions.
Trainer: How many of those conditions were there in the situation we have just had?
Student: The parked cars and bus narrowed the road, and I couldn’t see in the cars or the whole of the pavement.
Trainer: What would be the benefit to you if we had slowed down more back there?
Student: I would have had more time to react or respond if anything had gone wrong.
Trainer: Do you still think that it was 7 out of 10?
Student: Definitely not.
Trainer: What do you think you need to do to make it a seven or better?
Student: Probably look further ahead and assess the situation better so I can get the speed down earlier.
Trainer: What encouraged you to drive at that speed in that situation?
Student: I suppose there was no encouragement, it’s just that is how I perceived that I should go in order to make progress like my friends do when I am a passenger in their car.
Trainer: What is the difference in your understanding of that situation now?
Student: The goal of my journey isn’t just for me to arrive safely, but for everyone else using the environment that I am driving in and driving through to get to their destination safely too.
Trainer: Good, so how would you feel now if we went back to do that again?
Student: Certainly more prepared.
In the examples of the question above, both used questions to get an answer, however the second example was far more constructive because it focused on the student working out the answer for themselves. The trainer developed the thought process and used a scaling system to identify how the student perceived their skill base to be, and also used the student’s emotional quotient (or emotional intelligence, EQ) to arrive at a conclusion that the action did not feel right. The student’s influences (friends that drove him around) ‘managed’ that environment at the speed he did, but the friends showed little effort in doing so. The student bench-marked this as ‘normal behaviour’ (the norm) because he was lulled into a false sense of security through his friends’ influence that they had over him.The trainer has established a behavioural change in the student.
There are times when questions can be asked and the student cannot give the answer because they simply do not have the knowledge of the problem or any previous experience to draw from. This is when the trainer uses the student’s preferred learning method to instil the new information and form a behavioural trait in the process.