Google's Drawing program is the perfect platform to practice orthography- the skill of writing characters and symbols to create words- in language classrooms with non-Roman alphabets, such as Arabic or Chinese. Students of these languages need lots of practice handwriting the new alphabet or pictographic symbols, which is difficult to do in a digital environment. In traditional word processing programs, typing pictographic languages, such as Chinese, requires the student to change the keyboard language and then phonetically type the syllables. Characters will pop out fully formed, which is efficient and useful, but bypasses the important orthographic practice!
Google Drawing presents teachers with an opportunity to digitally collect and monitor their students’ orthography without having to scan in and email worksheets. The Scribble Tool in Google Drawing allows the user to create free form lines and by extension hand-drawn language characters. Couple Google Drawing with a pen mouse and Chinese language students are fully prepared to complete short answer or extended writing assignments online.
As with all Google documents, Google Drawings can be shared, edited, and commented on. An added bonus with Google Drawing is that comments can be attached to individual strokes, so that feedback can be specifically targeted. When the student hovers their mouse over the comment, the stroke to which the comment is attached is highlighted in yellow, as in my example below!