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.
Top Down and Bottom up Processing in Reading
Top Down Processing
This processing in language learning happens when some uses background information to predict what they are about to read
They develop expectations about what they will read, and confirm or reject these as they read
An example of this processing is asking learners to read the title of a piece of writing and asking what the article might be about.
Bottom Up Processing
This processing happens when someone tries to understand a piece of writing by looking at individual meanings or grammatical characteristics of the most basic units of the text,
An example of this type of processing is asking learners to read a piece of writing to focus more on form rather than meaning.
Top Down and Bottom up Processing in Listening
Top Down Processing
This processing tends to be similar to the processing carried out when you listen to a passage and you try to predict what you are about to listen.
An example of this processing happens when a friend tells you how great his / her trip to the beach was and you predict what he/ she is about to say using your background knowledge.
In a class setting, this processsing is reinforce every time teachers:
- ask learners to predict what they are going to listen based on the title of the listening passage.
- show pictures about the topic learners are about to listen so they can use their background knowledge to predict what they are going to listen.
Bottom up Processing
This processing is achieved by dividing and decoding the sound signal bit by bit.
An example to illustrate this is when you work as a reception in a hotel and a guest wants to make reservation, you will listen attentively to every piece of information the future guest provides.