ESL Term:

Top Down

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


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top-down: Studying language as a whole. Trying to understand the meaning of a reading or listening selection without worrying about the individual components of language. Listening for the gist and reading for the gist are two types of top-down activities. The learner is trying to understand using cues such as intonation, tone of voice or body language without focusing on specific words and structures. Top-down learning is thought to be important for producing automatic processing. Top-down techniques can be contrasted with bottom-up techniques.