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Sunday, March 18, 2018
Article written by Shilpa Rao

Abacus Mental Math in Asia and the West

For years and years in America, Chinese and Indian engineers and doctors have marveled their fields. We see them in every high-tech firm and hospital. Quite a few of you wonder how come there are so many Chinese and Indian engineers. How come there are so many Indian doctors and nurses?

Every time we visit our children's schools we see Chinese and Indian students marveling at SATs. And we all know why they succeed in Engineering and Medical fields. Answer is quite simple, they are good at Math. But why are they so good? How did they study Math that makes them so good at that one arduous subject? What do these Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Indians, etc.) do to make their children so good with Mathematics? Answer is quite simple, practice, practice & practice. But what is it that those students actually practice? The answer is Abacus Mental Math!

Lately, Abacus mental math has taken some of these Asian nations by storm. Abacus is a Latin word that has its origins in the Greek words abax or abakon (meaning "table" or "tablet") which in turn, possibly originated from the Semitic word abq, meaning "sand". The abacus is an instrument, a manual tool invented by the Chinese 2000 years ago.

After years and years of research, Abacus has made a come back. Today if you visit Malaysia, Taiwan or India, you might find training center pretty much at every corner focusing on just one subject - abacus math. Over the past five years, in nations like Malaysia, Taiwan and India, countless tutoring centers have sprung up with one goal in mind, tutor abacus mental math. Most of these centers offer training using the Japanese "Soroban abacus" which has one upper row of beads and four lower rows. The Soroban abacus is particularly effective for teaching mathematical calculating skills to young children.

Using an abacus, a child can do all arithmetic calculations up to 10 digits and master the skill of doing it mentally, without relying on modern devices such as calculators.

There are procedures and training methodologies to master abacus use. Research show that when children use both hands to move the beads for small and large arithmetic calculations, the quick communication between hands and brain not only stimulates brain cells promoting speedier and faster calculation ability but also promotes quick, balanced and whole brain development.

Millions and millions of children in the eastern world are now enjoying the benefits of abacus mental math education. 56748 + 632 and you scramble around looking for a calculator, but the very same problem can be solved without any aide of modern day electronic devices such as calculator. Such problems are solved in 5 seconds or even less, by a 6 year old studying abacus mental math for a bit over a year. Such is the power of abacus mental math education.

Today, the same educational materials used in Asian nations are available in the United States, Canada, UK, Europe and South Africa. Today various websites offer not only easy to understand textbooks on abacus math but also math practice worksheets. And this is the kind of practice that engages a child to learn math with a lot of fun. Now you know why Asian children are very good with numbers. And now you know why you see hundreds of Chinese engineers and Indian doctors.
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