2006年 04月 14日
Asahi Weekly, April 09, 2006より
English Yomiagezan Is a Good Learning Approach
I have been promoting international understanding through the use of the soroban (abacus) for 40 years and currently, I am president of the Institute for English Yomiagezan.
I have taught the use of the soroban in more than 20 countries, including the United States, England, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Vietnam, India, China and South Korea.
Whenever I give instruction in the use of the soroban, I emphasize two points.
As an educational tool, the soroban is very unique and instructive. The soroban is good for helping all the children in the world to understand basic number concepts, such as place value and base ten.
On the soroban, the numbers zero to nine are shown in the ones place, and 10 is represented in the next place.
This visual representation is particularly helpful to students whose mother language is English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic, where numbers such as 11 exist.
For children who speak English, "11" is a troublesome number to understand. The written number 11 consists of "1" in the tens place and "1" in the ones place. The same difficulty also exists for 12, 13 and on up to 19. Compare these numbers to the number 21, where it is clear that there are "2" in the tens place and "1" in the ones place.
In this format, 11 should be read "ten one" and the number 12 should be read "ten two." Children often have difficulty grasping this concept and can quickly become frustrated with numbers. Because the soroban visually represents 11 as "ten one," students can understand numbers more easily.
Soroban learning by English is called Eigo yomiagezan in Japanese. This English yomiagezan is a learning approach in which students listen to numbers read aloud in English and calculate those numbers with a soroban. This helps them become skilled in English and calculation at the same time.
Advanced learners can calculate numbers instantly without physically using a soroban. They can visualize the soroban frame in their mind's eye.
Through the study of the soroban, students can develop the ability to perform anzan or mental calculations. By manipulating a mental image of the beads of the soroban, people can perform calculations quite quickly and accurately using only their minds. This mental image is visualized using the right hemisphere of the brain, the same side of the brain responsible for making decisions and creative thinking.
Recent medical studies have proven that practicing anzan helps to stimulate and to develop both hemispheres of the brain, in contrast to other math programs that only develop the left side.
English yomiagezan helps not only to develop the left brain through listening to English pronunciation, but also the right brain, which controls creativity through anzan performed through the visualization of the soroban frame.
English yomiagezan seems not so difficult for Japanese, but it is actually quite difficult.
English pronunciation of numbers includes "D," "F," "L," "R," "Th" and "V," which are difficult for Japanese to pronounce and hear.
Calculation through English yomiagezan requires students to understand English numbers as read, instead of mentally translating them into Japanese.
Also, it greatly helps students to develop their ability to concentrate, because they must always prepare themselves for calculation with a positive intensity, trying not to miss numbers read aloud in English.
The story includes abridged portions of an interview with Dr. Kouzi Suzuki published in the San Diego Yu-Yu on July 1, 2004.
(Kouzi Suzuki is chairman of the board for the Institute for International Culture Exchange.)