Soroban and Anzan


My Soroban arrived last week.


I have a copy of “Know Abacus” on bluestacks on my computer to get me started.
I’m looking for training software, structured curriculum for soraban
and a simple talking app and/or visual app that I can use for Anzan.

  1. I am too slow for most flash anzan programs.
  2. I am having a hard time finding progressive curriculum for anzan. I am perfectly willing to practice like a 9 year old only I can’t find the materials.


Tips for learning soroban

Start here:


Hi Robert,

Congratulations on your new arrival. It’s beautiful and is made for speed! Great choice.

This below site is the best I’ve found and very much meets your requirements. I’ve been on it for several months now and have made solid and enjoyable progress:

Been studying in earnest for just over a year now, so would be glad to help you where I can.



Thank you… had a look and it appears to be just the thing I am looking for.
Sent them cash for a years subscription and will be giving it a try.


Sounds good Robert. Would be curious to know how you enjoy it after giving it a spin. The developer is quite attentive as well and has implemented many changes after providing him feedback.

If you’d like an app that can be used on the go, you may want to check out Mental Abacus Expert. It’s available both on Android and iPhone. By all means not perfect, but the program has the distinct advantage of providing bead to number recognition exercise modules and vice versa, which I find really helps with getting the bead images stable in my mind. Some limitations are that the number of repeats is limited to 10 times and the font is much too small in the settings area. The default voice can also be difficult to understand for certain numbers, but that can be remedied by changing the text to voice option to one of the standard ones (in Android). Outside of that, great app.


Up to LadyBug 2 so not much to comment on yet. We shall see how it plays out.


Curious as to both of you got on with this in the intervening months. Did you complete the courses on offer at RLM?


Sorry to say, my last year of energy has been mostly taken up helping to stand-up a software product business.

I had my soroban in front of me thinking that I needed to find some work-life balance soon when I received this email…

My practices of mental calculation, soroban, memory techniques, mathematics, physics, machine learning, backgammon, physical fitness, stenography, horticulture and calligraphy have all been set aside.

Your email reminds me that I need to do something about this. Sorry I don’t have great lessons of success but thank you for reminding me I have more interesting things to do than work till I die.

  • Robert


I am just starting out working through the RightLobeMath syllabus. I’m strickvl over there if you want to add me as a friend over there.

(Rose) #10

Dear all,
I am new to this forum.
I learned Soroban at a late age. I am 50 years old and I have been teaching soroban to my 7 years old son. I am quite happy and surprised how good he is considering that I started him with soroban a bit late. People recommend start Soroban when kids are 4 or 5. Anyway, now that he knows addition and subtraction pretty well. I would like to introduce the mental math. My problem is I am not able to do it myself. Is there any hope I am learn the Anzan at 50 years old? Most people say that you have to learn when you are younger. If I am not able to learn, how can I introduce Anzan to my son? Thanks


I am 35 years old and I started learning soroban and flash anzan via the online course / programme. I started a few months ago and I’d highly recommend it. It integrates anzan into your studies.

(Rose) #12

Thank you for the tip. I will check the RLM. I feel like I can’t do the mental soroban, my brain does not work as used to be. But if my son grasp it I will be more than happy. He can do addition and subtraction up to 4 digits and do some mental with 2 digits. I love soroban! Thank you.


In the past, on this forum, I have written about the abacus/soroban and a little about flash anzan.

Great question!
Next to wanderingtraveller’s answer, I would like to add the following.

One word. Yes!

IMHO, this is the route that you need to take to learn Anzan yourself and thus teach your son:

  1. learn the soroban until the finger movements become automatic. We are talking muscle memory here. If you visualize a number and you feel 2 fingers pinching to make the number on the soroban, that is when you have reached this level. With daily practice of a couple of hours you need at least half a year to get to this level I think.
  2. Again I cannot stress this enough, when the number handling is ‘in the fingers’, that is when your brain can free up enough resources to focus on the numbers presented during anzan.
  3. Next to a physical soroban, get one one your phone. Personally I like ‘Simple Soroban’ the best. Comes with training and challenges. I tried all soroban apps and this one I like best. Why use also on your phone? So you can always practice when you need to wait. Standing in line, waiting for the train, etc.
  4. Practice, practice, practice. For example here you can test yourself: . Of course you cannot practice if you cannot do the finger movements in your head. So learn on the physical soroban first, then add the digital, then try to do the same calculation mentally.
  5. If you find a good course you will learn that the finger movements on each rod can be done in one go with 2 fingers max. learn this first before doing anything else.

There is a draw back for western people though.
As a kid I was only trained to do mental calculation using digits. We never used the soroban.
For me, this leads to severe interference when training.
If I see a 9 and then a 6, my mind immediately presents 15, even before I can see or feel the finger movements. The only way -IMHO- is to persevere in the training until you see/feel the finger movements in your mind.

Keep in mind; on any addition, there are 3 different movements your fingers can make, per rod. If you need to add 8, you can do ‘+5+3’, ‘+10-5+3’ or ‘+10-2’. In the beginning you have to choose the right one and there is only one. This is where the finger movements come in. At some point you have done this so much, and so often, that your fingers just move.
At that point your conscious brain can focus on the numbers to add and your unconscious brain does the finger movements.


He does the mental calculations using anzan, right?
That is impressive for a 7 year old!
Let me think of exercises that he can do.


also; read this:

(Rose) #16

Thank you Kinma, you gave me so much encouragement! I don’t know if I have 2 hours daily to practice but I will definitely try. About the app, they only have for Android not IOS? Thanks

(Rose) #17

Yes, at least I think he does. He closes his eyes and come up with the answer. I ask, did you do mental soroban? And he says yes, hahaha. But when I increase to 3 digits, he complains and says it’s too hard. I am proud of him and myself that I was able to teach him, but I would like him to go to the next level. Thanks


Hello, I just created my account here, I’m an abaco self-taught student. I read some topics in this forum to have some direction in my training, but I never spoke here, I created this account precisely because I found this Kinma’s answer interesting. this is exactly my problem, training for more than 7 months, I can do addition and subtraction mentally, I imagine the soroban and it is done, but many times I come across the interference of the numbers in my mind, instead of the image of the abacus, that It’s horrible, I do not know if I’ll be able to get over it and get better, I hope so.
I’m Brazilian, sorry for bad English.


I don’t know about you, but I usually feel and see my fingers move. When interference comes, I try to focus on the abacus, the rods and the beads.
What you can try and sometimes this works with me and sometimes it doesn’t (sorry, no fool proof way here) is to hum during the calculation.
Keep in mind that this usually slows me down, so I just accept the slow down and keep humming away.

For me, the humming just change the focus in my brain to what I am actively doing and that is why it works, I assume.


I think so. IOS has a lot of soroban apps too, but I don’t know which one to recommend.