In the preface and introduction of the book: “They Say, I Say”, Graff and Birkenstein contend that well written argumentative writing should emphasize on hearing and responding rather than making claims. Based on the suggestions given by students, the revised 2nd edition of the book includes more chapters and features to give students a better understanding of academic writing. It is a general argument among the experienced instructors that good writing requires reaction with another’s arguments. The objective of the book is to help students to be involved in academic conversation with the academic field and society.
Their ideas of writing this book first began when they found the importance of communication for students and the effectiveness of the templates.
Students can learn the basic moves in the academic writing, how to relate their argument to the argument of others, and generate their own ideas. Part 1 of the book is about the art of listening and Part 2 is about making our own claims.
However, the limitation of the book is that it does not provide logical principles of argument. An adept writer usually depends on an existing way of writing which they learnt from others. The basic procedures of academic writing can be found in the templates which would help students to be familiar with conventional writing patterns and to make more sounded arguments.
The most essential template in the book is the “they say, I say” template that teaches students to react to the arguments made by other people.
The authors believed that a well-argued academic writing should include the opinion of others so that readers will know why there is a need to make an argument. The arguments that writers respond to do not have to be an eminent writer or the audience.
From the template, we can learn that we do not need to be restricted to agreement and disagreement. We can agree and disagree at the same time. In addition, templates can help students to make more complicated moves without suffocating creativity, because the basic moves in the template are building blocks for creativity. The conventional writing patterns used in the templates do not contribute to plagiarism. By using the templates properly, a student can be a more complete person who will be able to contribute to the diverse world.