For native Japanese, the Soroban Abacus is a familiar math tool and the benefits of learning the Abacus are well understood. For others, we understand that many questions need answering… we’ve provided this Abacus FAQ with answers to the most common questions about Abacus training below.
Click on a question below to view the answer.
What age would be suitable for children to start using Abacus?
While some children begin learning the Abacus at an earlier age, in general most start Abacus between kindergarten and the 4th grade.
Where can we buy Abacus?
You can purchase it at a store that carries Japanese items or at JAMS. Also, you can buy it through the Internet: Tomoe Soroban (www.soroban.com).
What kinds of calculation can we do with an Abacus?
Both basic and advanced math problems can be solved with an understanding of the Abacus, including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as square root, cube root and even bank interest.
Don’t calculators and computers make the Abacus unnecessary?
Absolutely not. In fact, beyond learning mental math skills (you won’t always have a calculator handy), learning the Abacus provides essential problem solving, focus and, of course math skills. Abacus is the best way for all children to learn how to calculate without the dependency of a calculator. In addition, because the Abacus is both visual and mental in nature, it fosters both left and right brain activity.
Is it true that concentration skills are improved by learning Abacus?
Yes, absolutely! Here is a good example: When you work on addition and subtraction with ten 2-digit numbers, you have to move Abacus beads approximately 30 times. If you make even one mistake, your answer is incorrect. So it is vital to remain focused, which enhances concentration skills.
Once you complete the basic courses, are there any advance courses available?
Yes. JAMS provides students with advanced and certificate courses. Our institution is a member of the League for Soroban Education of America, so we are officially allowed to give certificate examinations. Students who wish to advance their Abacus skills can earn certifications at our institution.
What is required to earn a certificate?
To earn an Abacus certificate a student must complete a timed examination and score 70% or higher. There are several levels of certificates, called kyu levels. Beginners starts at kyu level 10 and work toward kyu level 1.
How much does it cost to take certificate examinations?
The cost of certification exams is based on the kyu level the student is testing for.
When will students know the result of the exam?
One week from the test date.
I have an old Abacus, but its beads don't move smoothly. What should I do?
The beads don’t move smoothly because of dust, so clean Abacus beads with a brush and /or dry cloth. If the beads still don’t move well, ask Soroban the manufacturer for their professional advice. The Abacus is easily damaged by moisture so you need to be careful in using it with dry, clean hand.
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From Our Parents & Students...
At the age of 71, Abacus has been very difficult for me and I’ve struggled with learning a new way of doing math. Without the patience and the enthusiasm that Miwako is always showing me, I would have quit a long time ago. I also saw the result that devotion in teaching some of the High Schoolers who come, who continue working with her and who have become very skillful in math. My grandson Paolo’s regular teacher thinks that his math has improved greatly since he began taking Abacus classes a year and half ago, at the age of 8! -- Chantal Wyatt