bottom-up/top-down

The Slippery Slide

Senior Member
Britain
Hello friends

I'm editing the teacher's manual for an English study textbook. The writer (who is not available for questioning) has filled it with non-sequiturs and complex sentences that he thinks look impressive, rather than simple, meaningful, understandable English.

I'm struggling to understand the following:

"Target - To Improve Listening Skills. Encourage students to apply not only bottom-up processing skills but top-down processing skills to arrive at comprehension."

I'll probably cut it, because I have a feeling he's just put it in to show off, but I should probably understand what it means first. Any wisdom would be hugely appreciated!
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Bottom-up processing is similar to inductive reasoning/logic (you start with individual observations, with the details). Top-down processing parallels deductive reasoning, a process that begins with general principles that are then applied to individual elements.

    If memory serves, these terms can also apply to the information processing in an organization. I don't think that applies here, though.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I found this web page that discusses these very terms in relation to ESL teaching.

    I am pleased that bibliolept has provided the underlying concepts. I wouldn't have been able to do that on the basis of their descriptions.
     

    The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    Britain
    Thanks, bibliolept.

    I understand. I'm sure it's a sound concept in advanced information processing, but I don't think it's the clearest instruction for inexperienced young teachers who just need advice on how to get Japanese kids to understand "The pen is on the table".
     

    The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    Britain
    Yeah. They're just very out-of-keeping with the rest of the text. In context, the sentence seems to have been crowbarred in to fill up space. I understand the concept of bottom-up and top-down now, but can't see what actual activity it's suggesting that the teachers do. Mm. Anyway, thanks again, and thank you Cagey, for the link.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I found this web page

    I am pleased that bibliolept has provided the underlying concepts. I wouldn't have been able to do that on the basis of their descriptions.
    Great link (I have copied the text to show someone else). Thanks a bunch Cagey
    … I don't think it's the clearest instruction for inexperienced young teachers who just need advice on how to get Japanese kids to understand "The pen is on the table".
    :tick: I fully agree. That was my feeling as soon as I saw your first post. The guy seems to be a real prat - read "pompous idiot" - (arsehole wouldn't be far off :D). Students, especially foreign ones, need clear and easily 'digestible' guidance and instructions :rolleyes:
     

    The Slippery Slide

    Senior Member
    Britain
    Just to provide a conclusion to this thread, here's what I ended up substituting for the bottoms-up thing. I decided to use words like "listen" and "understand" instead of "processing":

    "Make sure students grasp the wider context of a listening activity before it starts. Look closely at pictures and questions with students before they hear the tape. Encourage them to listen for the gist of a conversation even if they don't understand all the details."
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    …"Make sure students grasp the wider context of a listening activity before it starts. Look closely at pictures and questions with students before they hear the tape. Encourage them to listen for the gist of a conversation even if they don't understand all the details."
    :thumbsup: brilliant :tick:
     
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