Teaching Listening: Top down and Bottom up Processing

Top-down processing is the idea that we start with “higher-level” features background knowledge, context, overall meaning – and proceed through a series of steps “down” to “lower-level” semantic, syntactical and phonological features.

In bottom-up processing, on the other hand, we start by recognising phonemes, combining these into syllables, syllables into words, words into clauses, and so on “up” to contextual and background information.