kids or children/ teens or teenagers? Which is best to use in IELTS?

Should you use formal or informal vocabulary in your IELTS writing and speaking?

For example, in IELTS writing task 2 and speaking, should you use…

  • kids or children
  • teens or teenagers?

IELTS Writing Task 2

You should always use formal vocabulary in your IELTS essay. This means you can’t use “kids” or “teens”, you must use “children” or “teenagers”. If you use informal vocabulary, you will be marked down.

IELTS Speaking

Your IELTS speaking test is informal. All parts are informal. Part 1 is based on short answers questions, part 2 is a talk and part 3 is a discussion. It is all informal, friendly and chatty.

This means you use all kinds of language in your speaking test. You can use children and kids. You can use teens and teenagers.


  • children = youngsters, minors
    • an infant or a toddler is not a strong paraphrase for child because it refers to only very young children
  • teenager = juvenile, adolescent, youth, minor

General Training Writing Task 1

In the General Training test, there are two main types of essays: formal and informal. In an informal letters, which means a letter to a friend or someone you know well (not a boss), you can use informal vocabulary, such as kids and teens. See this page for more tips about GT writing task 1

IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips & Model Essays

See this page for IELTS Writing Task 2 Main Page

IELTS Speaking Tips & Model Answers

See this page for IELTS Speaking Main Page

IELTS Vocabulary

See this page to learn useful IELTS vocabulary

IELTS Band Scores

Learn about IELTS band scores in listening, reading, writing and speaking

All IELTS Information & Tips

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  1. chidubem Njideka says

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    • That’s such good news!!! I’m really pleased for you. It’s great to get the right scores and go forward with confidence. Well done and thanks for letting me know 🙂

  2. Dear Liz,

    I would like to clarify one thing related to IELTS speaking part.

    Is the content of a student’s answer graded?

  3. thanks for providing me very useful information

  4. Htet Hlyan Oo says

    I prefer more ‘kids’ and ‘teens’ in speaking.Well, you know! It’s more convenient to say alternate than formal ones.Thanks

  5. Tünde Lagler says

    If we only speak of essay, we must use the words children and teenagers. However, when we think of the informal letters, namely about the writting task 1, I think we can use teens and kids.

  6. I would also use ‘youngsters’ as a paraphrase for ‘young people’ or ‘adolescents,’ What do you think?
    The definition given by Longman reads that ‘youngster’ is old-fashioned, which means natives might not often use the word. Still, examples from the Corpus are offered for the entry:
    ‘Nineteen-year-old songster Sebastian made his amazing gaffe as Di visited a centre for homeless youngsters.’

    • “young people” usually refers to young adults – over 18’s. So, it’s not a paraphrase for youngsters, which refers to children and not adults. For example, if your topic is about schools, you can write about youngsters, not you can’t write about young people.

      • Then ‘youngsters’ would be used to refer to any individual say between the ages of 4 and 16/17? Would it be appropriate to use ‘youngsters’ even if the dictionary states that the word is old-fashioned?

  7. Thanku for all your tips…its a great help for us…

  8. Children and teenagers

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