Language Development in Teenagers

Your teenager should be able to understand metaphors and abstract language.

Because most language skills are learned throughout early and middle childhood, the progression of language development during the teenage years is minimal. However, understanding the concepts your teen should be able to grasp will help you encourage him to communicate effectively, and let you know whether he needs help if he is lagging in language development.

Typical Development

In the teenage years, your child is already able to communicate like an adult with increasing maturity, according to She has been able to use expressive and receptive language for several years, and can form complex sentence structures correctly. She is also able to understand metaphors and abstract language.


According to a study by Dr. Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, the brain continues to grow during puberty. Although most of your child’s language learning happens earlier in life, he is still able to grasp new language concepts during the teenage years. This is especially beneficial if he struggles in school or has previously been behind on the average timeline for language development. With some guidance and specialized learning, his still able to grasp new concepts to continue reaching the adult level of language usage. His developing brain also allows him to learn a foreign language at this age.


In school, your teenager will foster her language development and skills through assigned reading and language classes. You can encourage her language skills by talking with her often about activities and topics that interest her. Prompt her to expand on her answers instead of giving simple responses, and encourage her to find books that interest her so she can read in her spare time.


Although most language difficulties are noticed in early childhood, it is possible for some language issues to become more prevalent in adolescence or for a brain injury to affect his ability to communicate as effectively as before. If you or your teen’s teacher suspects a problem with language development, your child might benefit from a hearing test or speech evaluation to determine the problem. From there, the right assistance can help your teen get back on track. For example, according to, stuttering problems can improve with help from a speech language pathologist.