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Learning experts recognize two distinct styles of learning. The "top down" model likes to start with the big picture, sampling here and there seemingly at random and gradually building a picture of the subject. By contract the "bottom up" learner likes things very structured and proceeds step-by-step. Most subjects in school are taught in a way that favors "bottom up" learners. But languages are usually learned more effectively using "top down" models, which is also why most traditional language classes are notoriously ineffective. The bottom up style does give a distinct advantage to the “bottom up” learners if they have already learned at least one foreign language before, or if they have a reasonable working knowledge of general grammatical principles.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|