The Japan Society
About What is the Japan Society News
Monday 25 January 2021

ONLINE TALK - Visualising Numbers: Soroban as a tool for the maths classroom

ONLINE TALK - Visualising Numbers: Soroban as a tool for the maths classroom

Join us on Thursday 4 March for a special talk introducing the Soroban (Japanese abacus) and explaining how it can be used as a classroom tool to help children visualise numbers and understand the decimal system, with soroban teacher Tomoko Hoult.

ONLINE TALK - Visualising Numbers: Soroban as a tool for the maths classroom
Thursday 4 March 2021 /
8.00pm - 8.40pm (GMT), followed by Q&A
Free - Booking essential

Book online here

The soroban is a calculation tool which enables the user to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and is part of the Japanese national maths curriculum for primary school children. It is also used in several other nations with high numeracy levels.

Any number can be visually represented on the soroban by changing the positions of the one upper bead and four lower beads in each column and Tomoko will demonstrate how its use can help children clearly understand the size of numbers and the concept of place value. By enabling children to see numbers physically represented and making the concept of numbers concrete, the soroban can take away the fear of maths and boost students’ numerical confidence. 

This talk is suitable for all parents and educators who are interested in using the soroban as a teaching tool and may be of particular interest to primary school teachers and subject teachers of maths. The talk will be followed by an opportunity for Q&A with Tomoko. 


Tomoko Hoult is a soroban (Japanese Abacus) teacher and a passionate advocate for the benefits of using soroban. Originally from Japan, she has been living in the UK since 2006 and has a professional background in banking, finance and technology. 

She founded the Wakamatsu Soroban club in 2017 and currently runs lunchtime soroban clubs at three primary schools and a Japanese Saturday school, in addition to private lessons. Whilst the majority of her students are primary school children, she also runs a soroban training course for adults. Since April 2020, classes have been held online. 

Tomoko is a member of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and her article How the Soroban Can Help Children Understand the Decimal System appeared in the ATM Journal’s issue ‘Visualisation’ in September 2020. She will be presenting on the soroban at the annual ATM conference on Tuesday 6 April 2021 (11.00-11.45am).