Adolescent Language Development: Advanced Language and the Secondary Student

Adolescent Language Development: Welcome to the advanced language webpage.

This page will feature a range of links to new pages that will focus on language impairment in the advanced language stage: the language of the middle and secondary school years.

Children and young adults in the middle and secondary school years are expected to use advanced language skills.

Students with typically developing advanced language skills are able to use complex sentences, in both their oral statements and written language.

Students at this level are also able to produce written stories that follow story grammar rules, and regularly make correct inferences from written text.

Another important language skill that develops in adolescents is the ability to understand and use figurative language. This includes understanding metaphors such as, "the mountains were angry that day," and similes, "he's as crazy as a jester." Students also have the ability to better understand idioms such as, "he's a bull in a china shop."

Expository Text

Adolescent Language Development cont...

An understanding and ability to use expository text is perhaps the biggest cognitive and academic leap that secondary students are expected to make. Expository text has a greater emphasis on decontextualized language forms and requires students to analyze and self-reflect on their views. In short, it requires good metalinguistic awareness skills.

Expository text presents a difficult series of tasks for a typically developing student to master; for a student with language disorder, the understanding and use of expository text can be an immense and arduous undertaking.

Social Language

Adolescent Language Development cont...

Social language skills are of huge importance to adolescents. For instance, the ability to detect and respond to sarcasm from peers is a critical skill that teenagers with typical language development find difficult to learn.

The problem, of course, of not possessing good social language skills, is that students who can't adequately respond to teasing or bullying become the target for more of the same.

Children with language difficulty generally have problems with most aspects of social language, including having adequate conversation skills, and knowing social rules.


Brent, M. Gough, F. & Robinson, S. (2008) One in Eleven: Practical Strategies for Teaching Adolescents with a Language Learning Disability. ACER Press

Paul R. (2006) Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence: Assessment and Intervention. Mosby

Wallach, G.P. (2008) Language Intervention for School-Age Students: Setting Goals for Academic Success. Mosby Elsevier

Content Last Modified 8/11

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