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SOROBAN Q&A

What is a Soroban/Abacus?
A Soroban/Abacus is the Japanese traditional abacus. It is a calculating tool which has 5 beads in each column. Each bead has its own value, such as one, five, ten, and so on. A Soroban/Abacus is one of the most effective educational tool to boost the children’s calculation skills and number sense.
What are the main advantages of learning a Soroban/Abacus?
One of the major advantages, is that practicing the Soroban/Abacus develops the ability of mental calculation. Soroban/Abacus learners are able to visualize the Soroban/Abacus beads clearly when doing the mental calculation.
What kind of materials are used to make a Soroban/Abacus?
A Soroban/Abacus is traditionally made of wood. Although some Soroban/Abacuss priced under \2,000 have plastic parts, most of the Sorobans/Abacuses priced more than \3,000 have wooden beads.
There are Sorobans/Abacuses priced between \3,000 and \5,000. But, what’s the big difference between them?
In general, the price is higher when the Soroban’s quality is better. For example, the wood is carefully chosen by a Soroban/Abacus craftsman, and more manufacturing processes are needed. Also, rigid specifications are adhered to in their manufacture.
There are 23-digit Soroban/Abacus and 27-digit Soroban/Abacus. Which one should I choose?
A traditional Soroban/Abacus has either 23-digit or 27-digit. The majority of Soroban/Abacus learners still choose to have these digits nowadays. On the other hand, there are also 15-digit or 17-digit ones for those who prefer to own smaller.
I would like to buy a Soroban/Abacus for a souvenir. Do you have one ?
A. Each Soroban/Abacus is assembled by a specialy trained craftsman. So, the Soroban/Abacus is also one of the Japanese craft products. The Soroban/Abacus is good for interior display, too. We can provide you with a reasonably priced Soroban/Abacus with instruction in English, French, German, Spanish, and Esperanto. We also have some nice postcards showing the Soroban/Abacus in use taken from ancient woodblock prints.
I am interested in learning a Soroban/Abacus. Do you have any books written in English or some other languages?
We have several books written in English that explains how to use a Soroban/Abacus.
I am a left-handed, and would like to operate a Soroban/Abacus with my left fingers. Is this possible?
There is no problem. We suggest that you use your dominant hand.
What age do you recommend to start learning the Soroban/Abacus?
In general, it would be better if a child is able to count the numbers one to ten, before learning the Soroban/Abacus. At first, we recommend you use a “Slavonic Abacus” which has one hundred beads. It is an excellent abacus for children to acquire the concept of numbers.
What kind of Soroban/Abacus qualification should I get to become a Soroban/Abacus teacher? Is there any certification to be able to teach the Soroban/Abacus?
There is no formal certification to be a Soroban/Abacus teacher. However, you should master a certain level of Soroban/Abacus calculation skill before you try to teach others. We hold a special program, called the “Soroban/Abacus Teacher’s Program,” for those who would like to be a Soroban/Abacus teacher. In this program, you are able to learn how to teach the Soroban/Abacus and also how to develop Anzan, mental calculation where you learn to visualize the Soroban/Abacus beads.
How do you calculate 55-88 with Soroban/Abacus?
Suppose you have 155 instead of 55, you are able to take away 88 from 155. So, 155-88=67. Now, you need to pay back 100 because you added 100 to 55. In order to make 67 to 100, you have to add 33.
So, the answer is “-33.”
What should I do to keep my Soroban/Abacus in a good condition?
A Soroban/Abacus is made of wood. So, it should be kept dry. After using your Soroban/Abacus, it would be better to wipe it with a piece of soft cloth. Like other wooden products, your Soroban/Abacus is going to last for many years of use.
Is there a good way or is there a tool to teach mental calculation?
It might be hard for some beginners to visualize Soroban/Abacus beads when they are trying to do mental calculation. So, we have developed a tool, called a “Turbo Soroban/Abacus,” to practice mental calculation effectively. This tool helps you to visualize the beads easier than ever before.
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