I always find it interesting that many high level language users (B2+ C1) still ask for help in terms of their “small talk” skills when planning a workshop or course. As trainers it can be easy to focus heavily on the main theme of the workshop and neglect what may seem like an unimportant side issue.
I firmly believe that what high level language learners need is (obviously!) practice. While their work persona is developed and communicatively competent in L1, they still need the opportunity and time to develop their work persona in L2. This goes not just for the institutional and professional talk of their trade, but equally for the backstage discourse that occurs over coffee and biscuits (or beer and chips for that matter) at meetings and on business trips.
It is the break in our workshop that we can use to assess how our students manage this switch in discourse; do they remain stuck in their professional persona at all times, or can they switch between both personal and professional discourse easily, including the backstage language common to their profession?
As trainers, we need to remain switched on during the breaks and pay attention to the conversation of our students. These are times when we can get some golden teaching moments, switching discourse ourselves with the students to really get a feel for how good their communicative expertise in L2 really is.