The process of language acquisition involves both top-down and bottom-up processing, where the incoming information is understood in relation to previously acquired knowledge and the individual components of language. The Interactive Framework of Intake Processes provides a comprehensive model for understanding how learners process and acquire language input.
The top-down processing refers to the use of prior knowledge and experience to interpret and understand new information. In language learning, top-down processing is evident when learners use their knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and other linguistic elements to make predictions about the meaning of new information. For example, a learner who knows the meaning of the word “cat” can use this knowledge to predict the meaning of the sentence “The black cat is sleeping on the couch.”
Bottom-up processing refers to the use of individual components of language, such as sounds, words, and grammatical structures, to build meaning. In language learning, bottom-up processing is evident when learners focus on individual words or phrases to understand the meaning of a sentence. For example, a learner who encounters the sentence “The black cat is sleeping on the couch” for the first time might break it down into individual words and use their knowledge of grammar to make sense of the sentence.
The Interactive Framework of Intake Processes combines top-down and bottom-up processing to explain how learners acquire language input. According to the framework, learners use a range of intake processes to understand and retain language input. These processes include inferencing, structuring, and restructuring.