At my Chinese school, there
were different activities to participate in after Chinese classes ended. Each
year, you could pick a different activity to participate in. One year, my dad
told me that if I joined the abacus team, he would buy me a toy. So guess what I
picked? I picked to join the abacus team. At first it may seem that I was
forced to join the abacus team, but later on I learned to appreciate it because
it helped me in the future.

When
I first started to learn abacus, it was very difficult. Some of the problems
can be really hard. I have thought about quitting many times, but my parents
encouraged me to keep on trying. I began at level ten, but after my hard work
and effort, I am now setting my target at advanced levels. Now abacus is much
more simple to me, and I hope that it will stay the way it is.

I
appreciate abacus very much because it has helped me a lot in math. I can now
easily do calculations in my head without writing problems step by step on a
piece of paper. Now I can finish my math homework a lot faster. I am glad that I
had made the choice to join the abacus team and I will continue to try my very
best at it.

** **

**How do I like Abacus**

** **

Almost
four years ago, a friend of my mom introduced abacus to my mom and she took me
to learn abacus. On my first day, I thought it was fun and the teacher, Mrs.
An, was nice so I continued learning abacus.

After
that, I tried to practice abacus everyday even five minutes a day because I
wouldn’t get improved if I didn’t practice. Sometimes, I was attracted by TV
program and tried to give up learning abacus, but luckily I didn’t quit.
Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go this far.

At
the beginning of learning abacus, I started writing number and one year later, I
passed 9^{th} grade exam. Now I am on the 1^{st} advanced level
(or better, I hope). I always knew I’d like it since the first day I went to
the class.

I
am very happy to learn abacus, I definitely will continue practicing it.

** **

**Why I Want to Learn Abacus (mental math)**

** **

You
may be wondering why I wanted to learn how to use the abacus because we can
always use the calculator to do math problems, so why learn how to? At lot of
people think this way but I think differently. I wanted to learn how to use it
because it will help my math, my memory, and self-discipline.

Since
I know how to do mental math, I can use it on my math problems. This is and
easier, faster way to get the answer. After a lot of practice, I now can beat
the calculator while people are still plugging in the numbers. Using mental
math, I can finish my homework quickly, getting the right answer, and have a
lot of time to check my work. When I have abacus class, I get extra practice on
my math so my grades have been getting better since I started learning. Since
math is easier for me, I enjoy it a lot more than I used to have.

It
helps my memory because we have to remember the answer that we add, subtract,
divide, or multiply when using mental math. In this way, it forces me to
remember the number or else I will never get the answer without using my
abacus. I get used to remembering thinks, so it improves my memory. Like I said
earlier, I already have the answer while people are still struggling to get the
solution. My brain is actually like a computer itself that can store gigabytes
of memory.

Similarly,
it is a great discipline when trying to learn the technique. I take practice
and without it, you cannot get the correct outcome. You need to always
concentrate, especially when doing mental math, because if all of a sudden you
lose your train of thoughts, you will forget what answer you had or where you
were. Also, you need a lot of patience to be able to sit through the test or
working through the practices without having to stop because there are long
numbers to add and subtract which will really test one’s endurance.

People
are always fascinated and impressed when they see me using the abacus. They
always say they want to learn, too. I feel proud of my Chinese heritage when
this occurs. I am thankful that I am giving the opportunity to learn how to use
the abacus. I see now the importance of knowing it, which I did not realize before.

** **

I’ve
been taking abacus since I was in 4^{th} grade. It’s been 6 years now
and I’m still taking abacus. There are many advantages in taking abacus. Not
only does it take both concentration and speed, but it also takes dedication. I
never understood why my parents always pushed me to take abacus, but now I know
why.

I
took abacus because my parents wanted me to. So I went, and at first it was
really easy so I enjoyed it. It was tedious, but at least I had no problem
concentrating. Later on, when it got tough, like testing for level 1,k it wasn’t
as fun as it used to be. I remember I used to get really frustrated because it
was really challenging. How if you didn’t concentrate hard enough, you would
miss the answer by just one digit.

Now I
just take it because it really benefits me in math. Where I see other kids
typing in the numbers into calculators, I’ve already put the answer down on the
paper. Not all problems can be done mentally or with an abacus, but most math
problems require addition, subtraction, or division in it. I can also help my
abacus teacher correct other student’s worksheet.

Abacus
has been the one thing in my life that I have quitted on. There have been times
when I’ve wanted to stop, but I couldn’t because my parents said that until I
passed level 1, I couldn’t stop. I’m past level 1, but I’m not going to stop
because I’m doing really well and I hope I can get some more levels before I
leave for college.

Through
dedication and hard work, I’ve gotten further than I’ve expected. Abacus only
benefits you and makes you a more skilled person. Mental abacus will always stay
with me, because I wont stop using it. That’s why I think it’s so important to
take abacus, because its something that is useful no matter how old you are.

** **

My mental math experience started with abacus classes back in the
early 1990’s,k when I was still only around six-years-old. I was encouraged to
start with the lessons because my parents were convinced I was bright and that
somehow I would be able to learn the basics of math (and maybe a little more)
before I entered elementary school.

Then,
as the years progressed and my skills became more honed, I stopped using the
beaded tool and graduated to relying only on the abacus imprinted within my
mind. From that time on, I began to apply for the annual tests. My first tests
scores I no longer remember, but just as with every other beginner, I went up
the levels very slowly. It was only through diligence and constant practice ad
encouragement that I gradually began to improve; and soon, as my class
schedules changed from weekend class to another and then a few more times, I
left the beginning levels and slipped into the advanced placements. By this
time my sister had also joined the mental math course, and it was against her
that I constantly tested my test completion times as each individual year’s
assessment test drew nearer.

Soon
I had cleared the hurdles presented by the mid-advanced levels, and my teacher (Teacher
Huang) began to enter me into various demonstrations at Chinese school
activities and other events. With the additional practice required for the demos
I managed to get myself into the higher advanced levels. It was around that
time that the first competitions between the California Chinese Abacus
Association and the other abacus groups in Taiwan and China sprang into life. I
was present in the very first of the competitions around fours years ago, and
ever since then I’ve been a part of the annual competition – and my assessment
test levels have risen up to claim a place in the advanced eighth level.

** **

I
started learning abacus when I was 6 and a half years old. I like arithmetic a
lot. It is fun because I get to do math, my favorite subject in school.

I
started at level 9 to level 8 the first year, then level 8 to level 2 the
second year, then level 2 to advanced level 4 the third year, and then advanced
level 4 to advanced level 5 on the fourth year. Now I’m aiming for advanced
level 6 or 7.

After
I learned abacus, it think that it has extended my memory and made my accuracy
for math better. It has made me concentrate better also, it has helped me in
math at school because of learning abacus. I got in the math contest at school
and won third place. I think that abacus is very fun.

I started abacus class when I was little (about in first grade).
My brother started before I did. I thought he was playing when he was using the
abacus. It was fun watching him “playing” with his abacus. I insisted that my
mother signed me up for the abacus class and bought me the same “toy”.

Using
the abacus to do calculation was easy. At first I thought it was extremely
hard, and it would take forever for e to even get to level 1. I didn’t’ pass
the first test on level 7, so I was sad and wanted to quit. But my teacher
encouraged me to not give up and I started training again. The next time I
tested, I passed! This showed me the value of persistence. I was getting
better, too. Once, I skipped 3 levels! I kept passing levels and finally, when I
was in third grade, I passed level 1 and moved onto advanced! I started
advanced and pass advanced 2 most of the time. Sometimes, I even pass advanced
3 and 4! This year, I am going to test advanced, and I hope I pass.

Abacus
class helped me a lot. During first grade, I knew my times table u to 9, by
heart. By the end of the year, I knew how to multiple two digits by two digits.
In second, third and fourth grade, most of the time I was the multiplication champion
in my class. Not only did abacus class improve my multiplication, it improved
my addition and division. When the teacher gave my class worksheets to do, I
could easily finish it quickly without having any mistakes. I learned a lot
form abacus, and used it in other things. My math grade in school is an A+!

I’m
ten years old and still in advanced. Even thought sometimes I don’t even pass
advanced 1, I still keep trying. Someday, I will pass advanced ten and be an
expert math person.

My
name is Jason Cham and I am I sixth grade. I have been studying Abacus for four
years. When my mom first enrolled me in abacus, I said, “Mom, its just going to
be a waste of time. I’m wont’ learning anything!!!” Little did I know then what
impact abacus had in my life. It plays a big role for me in school and at home.
I had many difficulties, especially when I first learned it, but those difficulties
taught me more than just addition and subtraction, it taught me something
unexpected as well, it taught me to be more patient and that learning takes
time. You can’t learn something overnight.

So,
the first few months were very simple, because it was just simple mathematical
sentence. You had to get eh basics before advancing to the next level. There
was only one difficulty, though and that was the common rules table. I hated
drilling all those rules in my head like +10-1. I thought I wasn’t capable of
such things. I complained a lot to my mom and dad, however, they kept me at it.
I eventually got all the rules and was ready to advance to harder materials.
That didn’t mean that my difficulties were over. It had just begun

After
the first few months of using the clicking beads of abacus, my teacher finally
moved me onto the using a paper abacus. I was so happy thinking that I got
better. But when I tried using it, it was really hard. I couldn’t remember the
numbers all the time. This made me learn to concentrate more than ever to help
me not forget where I was or what number I was on. I was another challenge that
I had to face.

As I
moved on to harder levels like levels three and two I struggled a lot and felt
hopeless. It seemed like a never-ending group of math problems of multiplication
division, addition, and subtraction to answer. I hated the sounds of the abacus
beads clicking every time I moved one and the piece of paper abacus. I was so
frustrated. One way the teacher motivated me was giving me a prize. I practiced
almost 30 minutes a day as my parents encouraged me to go on. After four years
of hard work, I am finally at level advanced one. This year, I am testing for
level one and advanced one.

I
kept it. I didn’t quit. Now when I look back, I would have never forgiven
myself if I did quit. I know now that abacus had made my life easier at school.
For example, when I did speed drills at school, I was always the fastest person
and the one to get 99% accuracy. I loved that feeling. I loved the feeling for
being better than my classmates. It really helped me at school.

I learned
many things in the process of learning abacus. Abacus taught me to be patient, concentrate
better, improve my accuracy in doing math calculations, etc. I learned that you
can’t learn something overnight and that it takes time. Whatever you learn, you
need time to make it perfect. And of course, I learned how to do math problems
quickly and accurately. In conclusion, abacus was a process that helped me
improve my math and it teach me many valuable lessons.

** **

“I’m
going to sign you up for the new abacus culture class at Chinese School okay?”
my mom asked me the night before the day of the deadline for the sing-up of the
next year’s Chinese classes. At the time, I wasn’t really sure of what an
abacus really was. My only knowledge of it was that it was sued for arithmetic,
mainly in the olden times (from watching Chinese soap operas). But I knew that
my parents’ suggestions are usually at least a little useful and reasonable,
plus, I rarely succeed at arguing against their arrangements anyways. So I
answer, “Sure,” just a little reluctantly. From then, I began my fate with abacus
and mental math.

As is
with all other students, my first year of learning abacus was mainly to create
a basis and stabilize my understanding of the usage of the seemingly useless
beads. After a period of time, I began to be able to calculate arithmetic
problems with simply my fingers and nothing else, which came in handy when it
came time for a test in school. Therefore, I became devoted to improving my
level (making sure I did not retrogress). This kept me from giving up when I
found myself frustrated or discouraged.

In my
latest years, I have been able to reach the higher advanced levels, a very
rewarding reply for my hard work. But, I don’t not plan to stop any time soon
because through these years, abacus has claimed an area in my heart that clearly
states one of my many goals—to advance to the highest possible. I continue to
learn abacus from Mrs. Huang in order to make use of my choice, and maybe
someday, help teach younger students formally. Even though I excel mainly in
mental math, I recently started testing myself on my skill and speed in abacus.
Hopefully, I can pass advance 3 in abacus, or even better, advanced 4, on the
assessment that will be held in May 2003.

Many
people picture learning a skill or attending an extracurricular class as an
addition to high school students’ pile of homework, but its actually more than
that. Other than reporting to class once every week and completing the work the
teacher assigns (always the best thing to do), students are provided with many
chances to fulfill their community service requirements and yearning for
something new to do on weekends. As an example, I got a chance to demonstrate
at many performances pertaining to Chinese culture for Berryessa Chinese School
and the Chinese American Abacus Association, including a demonstration at the
Children’s Discovery Museum, which raised my “popularity” among parents of
abacus students. I even went all the way to Los Angeles for a demo for the
Tzu-Chi Academy at Irvine!

By
now, almost all of my classmates in Milpitas High School know somewhat of my
ability to do mental math, which still amuses them, though it has, in fact,
been a number of years since they found out. When I was younger, I believed
that it was “all my parents’ fault” because they made me do this, but I now
know that I choose to do so myself. Ever since I entered high school, my
parents have given me the privilege to quit learning abacus, but I insist that I
want to continue working toward my goal.

** **

When I
was six years old, my mom sent me to the abacus class. I hated it when I first
started learning it because there was too much work. I needed to go to abacus
class every week and practice a lot almost everyday, so I and to sacrifice some
fun activities, such as birthday parties and school open house. I always
complained to my mom why I have more work than my friends.

In 3^{rd}
grade, I was learning times table at school, the first person to finish it and
got 100% right in the class was always me. The teacher was wondering why I was
so accurate and quick. After showing him the abacus, he was very impressed how
the abacus was working. Fro then on, my classmates said that I had a calculator
in head and buttons on my palm. Every time I just pressed my palm and the
answers came out immediately. They were absolutely correct! I do have an abacus
in my mind. Abacus has helped me improve my math grade a lot. Since then I was
very confident in Math, which is now my favorite subject at school.

I enjoy
doing abacus. I don’t need my mom to tell me when I should do my abacus work
anymore. I also love to go shopping with my mom; I can double check the bill
for her to make sure she is not ripped off. My brother has passed advanced
level 3; I wish I could be as good as him.

I am
so grateful that I am a Chinese-American to have the opportunity to learn and
benefit from the abacus. When I grow up, I would like to be like teacher Huang
to teach kids about the abacus.

** **

Due
to learning abacus and mental math for the past seven years, I have learned
that I must be persistent in order to accomplish anything. During these few
years, I have decided many times to quit learning abacus, but later decided to
continue learning again. Through these struggles, I have found that in order to
meet my goals of an advanced level, I must be able to continue learning, no
matter what difficulties presents themselves. Since then, I have been able to
meet my goals, showing that persistency eventually does pay off. This trait is
important in all aspects of life, as it helps me solve problems, complete
projects, and other such activates that I would not be able to complete
otherwise. This is because I would most likely give up before I finished and
met my goal. Thus, the ability to complete these projects mirrors the decisions
I have made while learning abacus. Therefore, I have learned a way to being
successful in life due to my learning of abacus.

** **

Learning
how to use an abacus is very important to me because of many important reasons-
mostly because it will help me much in life. Firstly, I want to learn abacus
because it will help me at my regular school and help me get good grades. Also,
I can just do the arithmetic in my head during tests without having to press
all those annoying buttons on my graphing calculator, my TI-83, or showing all
my work. Additionally, I feel that it will help me when I grow up, for it will
be useful when I go to a store and am suspicious of why the bill is so much.
Learning abacus also makes me feel special. I think that not a lot of people in
the United States of America know this out-of-the-ordinary thing, and
therefore, it may let me teach this unique thing to other people. In addition,
I particularly like things that challenge me. Abacus is one of those things,
and I like to feel the pressure and excitement all around me when I practice
it. Also, it makes me work towards a goal, knowing that I can always do better.
One of the most interesting things about the abacus is that every country has a
different way to do it. For example, some people in China use both hands to
flick the beads on the abacus, whereas in the United States of America, we use
mental math more often. Another reason why I want to learn abacus is that
abacus is very much like other subjects I have at school. For example, there
are three categories to mental math- multiplication, division, addition, and
subtraction. This is similar to science at school, where we learn life science,
physical science, and science of the earth. It is also similar to a game,
because it has many levels that you have to work past to pass. Also, there are
many different kinds of abacuses. At museums in China, I have seen jade
abacuses, pearl abacuses, and other kinds of extravagant abacuses. In addition,
I can memorize many numbers at first glance, which will save much time in my
future years. Also, at the abacus center, I enjoy meeting new friends and
learning from my great teacher, which are more reasons why I want to continue
learning abacus. Finally, I also like the praise of the audience and my teacher
after the assessment test when I pass a higher level. Helping me much throughout
my entire life, this is why I want to continue learning and practicing abacus.

** **

Why
did I start learning mental math? Why would anyone want to start learning
mental math? To be honest, I don't think anyone every actually wants to start
learning mental math. At the age of six, most kids probably haven’t learned
about or even heard of just what an abacus is. Most of the time, parents sign
their child up for this class, so the kid goes along with his or her parent(s)’
decision and starts learning. Why, however, do students stick with it and
continue to learn?

As
you grow older, you see how helpful mental math can be. Sometimes, calculators
can be nuisances, especially when you just want to add, subtract, multiply, or
divide a few numbers. Many things can go wrong when you are working with
calculators. For example, in an elementary school math class, you work on
arithmetic. Let’s say you’re having a test and the teacher allows you to use a
calculator. You look in your backpack, and you see that you left it at home.
Since your friends also need their calculators, you cannot borrow one from
them. However, if you have learned mental math, you could probably do the
arithmetic as fast as a snap of the finger. Secondly, calculators run on
batteries, which don’t last forever. What do you do when your batteries run
out? Also, calculator screens can only show a certain amount of numbers. If you
number has more than nine digits, it probably won’t show up on a calculator,
but you could do it mentally or with an abacus.

Is
that the only reason I continued learning mental math? No. Another reason I
kept learning abacus is because it sharpens one’s mind. When you practice
mental math, your memory gets better and better. This is because you are
performing the basic functions in arithmetic in your head. You have to be able
to remember not only the answer, but the process. Also, mental math can help
your reflexes. To advance to the next level you have to be able to do more
problems. In order to do more problems, your mind has to think more quickly,
which helps your reflexes. The quicker your mind thinks, the quicker your
reflexes will be.

Lastly,
I have a goal. My goal is to reach Advanced Level 10. To reach my goal, I keep
learning mental math. If you want to buy something, you do your chores, earn
allowance, or work for a salary. Since I want to get Advanced Level 10, I have
to work hard and practice. Why do I keep learning mental math? I like to do
things quickly and efficiently, and I have a goal.