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French protesters, known as “yellow vests”, have been blocking roads and demonstrating around France since November 2018. They are called the “yellow vest” protests because of the yellow vests that protestors have been wearing. Yellow vests are required to be kept in every car in France so they are an easily accessible symbol for protestors.

The protests began as a reaction to the French government’s plan to further increase fuel taxes in January 2019. The uproar over the January fuel tax increase occurred due to the fact that fuel costs have been increasing throughout 2018. This is on top of other rising costs which have been causing the cost of living to increase while wages have remained stagnant over many years. 

Although the protests originally started as demonstrations against the fuel tax, they quickly transformed into protests against the general cost of living in France. The cost of living in France has been increasing every year while wages have remained the same. Every year, people have been getting increasingly angry about the cost of living and the lack of employment opportunities. The fuel tax has reinforced the anger that people have felt about all of the increases they have endured over the years.

Since the Macron government came into power in 2017, a large policy focus has been to combat global warming. The fuel tax increases in France in 2018, and into 2019, have been part of that plan. France has one of the largest rates of diesel vehicle ownership in the world because diesel was historically very cheap in France. However, recent scientific studies have been released stating how detrimental diesel is for the environment. Therefore, the French government has been trying to move people away from diesel-powered vehicles.

The protesters have been criticised for demonstrating against the fuel tax by environmental campaign groups around the world. However, in France, a majority of French people are thought to be in favour of the protests. The French government caved to protester demands and scrapped the fuel taxes for 2019. The government also offered other concessions to the protesters. The government promised an increase of the minimum wage in 2019, a temporary freeze on electricity prices and the elimination of tax for overtime and bonus wages.

These concessions have largely been seen as a victory for the protesters, nevertheless, the weekly demonstrations have shown no sign of stopping. The yellow vests have been calling for decreases in taxation for individuals and some have been calling for the removal of President Macron. As the yellow vests have no leader, it is difficult to say which concessions would lead to the end of the protests.

Difficult words

Demonstrating: A group of people which band together to strongly announce they are against the same thing.

Uproar: A loud statement of disapproval.

Stagnant: For something to remain the same for a long time.

Reinforce: To strengthen.

Combat: To fight against something.

Detrimental: Something which causes harm.

Cave: To give up or give into an argument.

Scrap: To get rid of or start over.

Concession: A thing given in response to demands.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Demonstrating A. Outcry
2. Uproar B. Fight
3. Stagnant C. Give up
4. Reinforce D. Strengthen
5. Combat E.  Harmful
6. Detrimental F. Protest
7. Cave G. Compromise
8. Scrap H. Motionless
9. Concession I.  Throwaway

True or False?

1.  Recently, there have been many protests in Germany. T / F

2.  The protesters are called the green vests.  T / F

3.  The protests began because of an increase in fuel tax. T / F

4.  The protesters have been blocking the roads. T / F

5. Yellows are not required to be in every French car. T / F

6.  Protesters have also been angry about the rising cost of living in France. T / F

7. President Macron is not concerned about global warming.  T / F

8. Diesel has not been proven harmful to the environment. T / F

9. The French government has cancelled the fuel cost rise. T / F

10. PThe protests in France have now stopped. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. They / called / “yellow vest”/ the / protests / are

2. vests / be / are / car / to / every / kept / required / Yellow / in

3. other / This / top / is / rising / costs / on / of

4. protesters / The / criticised / have / been

5. to / protester / French / The / caved / demands / government

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

Campaign Wages Accessible
reaction Demonstrating  Ownership
Employment Scientific  Taxation

French protestors, known as “yellow vests”, have been blocking roads and __________________ around France since November 2018. They are called the “yellow vest” protests because of the yellow vests that protesters have been wearing. Yellow vests are required to be kept in every car in France so they are an easily ____________ symbol for protestors.

The protests began as a _____________ to the French government’s plan to further increase fuel taxes in January 2019. The uproar over the January fuel tax increase occurred due to the fact that fuel costs have been increasing throughout 2018. This is on top of other rising costs which have been causing the cost of living to increase while _________ have remained stagnant over many years. 

Although the protests originally started as demonstrations against the fuel tax, they quickly transformed into protests against the general cost of living in France. The cost of living in France has been increasing every year while wages have remained the same. Every year, people have been getting increasingly angry about the cost of living and the lack of _________________ opportunities. The fuel tax has reinforced the anger that people have felt about all of the increases they have endured over the years.

Since the Macron government came into power in 2017, a large policy focus has been to combat global warming. The fuel tax increases in France in 2018, and into 2019, have been part of that plan. France has one of the largest rates of diesel vehicle ______________ in the world because diesel was historically very cheap in France. However, recent _______________ studies have been released stating how detrimental diesel is for the environment. Therefore, the French government has been trying to move people away from diesel-powered vehicles.

The protesters have been criticised for demonstrating against the fuel tax by environmental ______________ groups around the world. However, in France, a majority of French people are thought to be in favour of the protests. The French government caved to protester demands and scrapped the fuel taxes for 2019. The government also offered other concessions to the protesters. The government promised an increase of the minimum wage in 2019, a temporary freeze on electricity prices and the elimination of tax for overtime and bonus wages.

These concessions have largely been seen as a victory for the protesters, nevertheless, the weekly demonstrations have shown no sign of stopping. The yellow vests have been calling for decreases in ______________ for individuals and some have been calling for the removal of President Macron. As the yellow vests have no leader, it is difficult to say which concessions would lead to the end of the protests.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3.  Have you heard about these protests in France?
4. Are taxes high in your country?
5. Do you mind paying taxes?
6. Is the cost of living high in your country?
7. Does the cost of living match wages in your country?
8. What can be done to improve the lives of regular working people?
9. Do you agree with the protestors in France?
10. Have you ever joined a protest?
11. Do you think protests are a good way to enact change?
12. Have people protested in your country often? If so, about what?
13. Is diesel or gasoline more popular in your country?
14. Does your country have any plan to discourage people from using diesel?
15. Why do you think protests often turn violent?
16. What do you think about the protesters blocking the roads?
17. What are the dangers of protesting?
18. Other than protesting, what is another way to get your voice heard?
19. Do you think the internet helps protests be more peaceful or more dangerous?
20. Are there any questions that you would like to ask the protesters?