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How to deliver a great lesson is more important than what to deliver!


Many PDIS & ADIS get caught up in delivering a topic, quite often based on outdated training forms still required by the DVSA (ADI-21T.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk) to say that certain topics have been covered, that are signed off to say a PDI has received a minimum of 40 hours of training.

This form in itself is all about what to teach and not how to train. It is no wonder that the failure rate for PDIS is so high and the majority of ADIs struggle to get a Grade A.

This series of articles will help you achieve better results in your lessons and on your Standards Check & Part 3.

PDIADI.COM is dedicated to bringing you training that will help you become an ADI or be a better ADI.

There are Five essential communication skills combined to make a great ADI, they are Rapport, Listening, Questioning, Feedback, and Intuition.


In this article, we will have a look at each one. If you then want to take a deeper look at developing these skills, get in touch and we will help find the right training course for you.



The relationship between you and the learner is fundamental to ensuring learning takes place and value for money is given. The relationship needs to be client-centred, equal and based on the understanding that learning comes from within. This is very different from the traditional hierarchy between learner and instructor where the relationship was based on the belief that learning takes place through a transfer of knowledge from the expert to the person doing the learning.

To create this equal relationship, you need to use non-verbal communication skills, such as eye contact, nodding, smiling and matching body language. Above all, you must have unconditional positive regard for the other person.



To maintain the rapport, you must actively listen and work hard to remain on the agenda of the learner.  Active listening involves:

  • Repeating back

Try repeating the exact words the person has used. Sometimes, it is only necessary to repeat the last two words and make them into a question, to encourage the person to keep speaking. For example:

Instructor: ‘What would you like to do today?’

Learner: ‘I’m not sure.’

Instructor: ‘Not sure?’

  • Paraphrasing

Repeating the words the learner has spoken whilst putting some interpretation on them, will also encourage the learner to continue speaking. For example:

Instructor: ‘What would you like to do today?’

Learner: ‘I’ve been practising my commentary and trying to watch other people driving since I last saw you. I don’t know whether listening to my commentary or seeing if I have learned anything from watching people’s driving would be a good idea?’

Instructor: ‘Okay, so if I’ve understood you correctly, you would like to demonstrate your commentary and/or show me what you have learned from watching other people driving. Is that correct?’



Asking questions will enhance learning, provided they are focused on the learner’s development. Often, we ask questions as driving instructors to check knowledge, rather than asking questions that are focused on developing critical thinking skills in the individual. Here are some examples:

‘How have you been getting on since we last met?’

‘Do you know how you learn best?’

‘What do you need to get out of today’s session to advance your understanding of what is involved in being a safe driver?’

‘What do you need to get out of today to be able to continue practising at home?’

‘How can I support you?’

All of the above questions are far more effective than anything to do with knowledge and information.



The purpose of feedback is to develop self-evaluation skills in the learner. Understanding how you learn best, what strengths and weaknesses you have, and how your emotional state affects your ability to learn, are key skills. Scaling is a very effective form of feedback because it raises this sort of self-awareness. For example:

‘On a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is no good and 10 is very good, where would you put yourself for the progress you are making in learning to drive?’

‘What have you done well to give yourself that score?’

‘How do you need to develop?’

‘What support do you need from me?’

‘How will you feel when you have succeeded?’

Eliciting (drawing out) the feedback from the person learning is far more effective than giving your opinion on their progress or achievement. Sometimes, it is necessary to give your feedback because this helps the other person benchmark themselves and sets a standard – so long as the standard you are using is not the practical driving test.



This essential communication skill is hugely underestimated in its relevance to client-centred learning. Only when we use our intuition can we recognise whether effective learning is taking place. If the learner driver suddenly appears disengaged from their learning, you are wasting your time and theirs. Often, this is about noticing a mismatch between their body language and what they are saying. Are they suffering from task overload and no longer able to process the huge amount of information that is being given to them? Change tactics and re-focus your training on their learning.


Remember, it makes no difference who you are teaching – whether a complete beginner, partly trained learner, trained learner, inexperienced full licence holder, or experienced full licence holder – you need to deliver a great lesson around lesson planning, risk management and teaching and learning strategies; and to do this, you need to use five essential communication skills: Rapport, Listening, Questions, Feedback and Intuition.


Look out for our next article where we start to explore the competencies involved with Lesson Planning.


Graham Hooper

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