Research in ELT materials has not emphasised the use of visuals for cognitive development. In most cases, visuals serve for illustrative purposes. Recent cross-disciplinary findings by Mohan, 1986; White and Gunstone, 1992; Burgess, 1994; Cortazzi and Jin, 1996, concerning the use of visuals indicate that they have a much wider role. In this paper we develop a strand of visualisation within a comprehensive Framework of materials design for English for Academic Purposes (EAP). We argue that visual elements are critical in the discourse exploitation of materials, Through our case studies in Britain, Malaysia and China, we demonstrate how EFL/ESL teachers have used a variety of visuals to develop text understanding and critical thinking. Different visuals help teachers to see texts in different ways and to see through the process of making discourse-based tasks and activities. We report the use of: Key Visuals, which we define in Mohan’s (1986) terms of symbolising text content; Text Frames (McCarthy and Carter, 1994) which give visual overvew of a text’s discourse structure and text type (Davies and Green, 1984; Jordan, 1984; Hoey, 1985; Davies, 1995) in teacher education research projects and ifiustrate these uses with classroom examples. “Seeing through texts” has a further dimension of developing the critical thinking of both teachers and students regarding text content and structure, once this is visualised.