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11-17 Years

This is a guide to how children develop speech and language between 11 and 17 years.


Language development at this stage is a gradual process.  Changes still take place but they are harder to see. Children need to learn to develop relationships and join in social activities on their own.

What to expect between the ages of 11 and 14

At this stage children will:

  • Use longer sentences; usually 7-12 words or more.
  • Know how to use sarcasm. Know when others are being sarcastic to them.
  • Be able to change topic well in conversations.
  • Use more subtle and witty humour.
  • Show some understanding of idioms, such as “put your money where your mouth is!”
  • Know that they talk differently to friends than to teachers. 
  • Understand and use slang terms with friends. They keep up with rapidly changing ‘street talk’.

What to expect between 14 and 17 years

As they get older, young people can:

  • Follow complicated instructions.
  • Know when they haven’t understood. They will ask to be told again.
  • Easily swap between ‘classroom’ talk and ‘breaktime’ talk.
  • Tell long and very complicated stories.

Progress Checker

Check the Progress of your child’s communication development using our Progress Checker for children at the following ages:

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