As our institution expands its international offerings it is increasingly important to be able to communicate with intelligent and able people who have not had much exposure to learning in English. It has been difficult however to communicate verbally due to the low English proficiency of international clients and lack of language skills on the part of the Australian participants. This experience in international communication has highlighted the need for alternative methods of communicating information. In communicating with the students from a Japanese university I found that using diagrams and sketches worked well for example, in creating a cartoon of the process needed to carry out an assignment, such as research in books, asking questions and testing out designs on users. The students also produced visuals to describe their experiences and thinking.
The approach has also been used with postgraduate local students and has developed further dimensions that are proving valuable. This paper explains some of the directions taken in introducing visual communication with international clients and explores the ways the approach accords with research into compensatory communication strategies, in particular, communicating with pictures. The value of visual communication in intercultural and international contexts is demonstrated.