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Top Down Listening Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Top down listening happens when we activate our prior knowledge in order to help us make sense of what we are hearing. This lesson offers some activities you can do to help your students master top down listening.

What Top Down Listening Means

Are you trying to help your students become better listeners who really understand and think about the different information they take in over the course of the day? One way you might do this is to focus on top down listening.

Top down listening involves activating prior knowledge about a particular topic or theme, and using this prior knowledge to help us make sense of the new story or information we are hearing.

Most of us incorporate some top down listening into our communication without really thinking about it. After all, most of what we hear is put into context of what we have heard before, whether in a different situation altogether or earlier in the same lesson or conversation. Many students, though, can benefit from explicit work on top down listening.

The activities in this lesson will focus your students' attention and help them become better top down listeners overall.

Top Down Listening Activities

Each activity includes a brief description as well as some ideas about how learners will benefit from the activity.

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