Preliminary English Test (PET)
Introduction to the PET Vocabulary List
The PET Vocabulary List gives teachers a guide to the vocabulary needed when preparing students for the PET examination. Background to the List The PET list was originally developed by Cambridge ESOL in consultation with external consultants to guide item writers who produce materials for the PETexamination. It includes vocabulary from the Council of Europe’s Threshold (1990) specification and other vocabulary which corpus evidence shows is high-frequency. The list covers vocabulary appropriate to this level of English and includes receptive vocabulary (words that the candidate is expected to understand but which is not the focus of a question), and productive vocabulary (words that the candidateneeds to know to answer a question). The list does not provide an exhaustive list of all words which appear on the PET question papers and candidates should not confine their study of vocabulary to the list alone. How the List is Updated The vocabulary of English changes over time, with words being added and other words falling into disuse. In order to maintain its currency, the PET list isupdated on an annual basis by the addition and removal of words, using a corpus-based approach. Suggested additions to the wordlist are collated and the frequency of these words is obtained by reference to established corpora (electronic databases). The corpora in question represent receptive and productive language in general contexts. The main corpora used for the validation of the PET VocabularyList are: • the Cambridge Learner Corpus (CLC) which includes over 20 million words of written learner English at six levels; • the British National Corpus (BNC) which includes 100 million words of written and spoken native speaker data. Organisation of the List • Word sets Some categories of words a learner at this level might be expected to know are not included in the alphabetical list but arelisted separately. Words formed with common affixes, some compounds and words from some common word sets, e.g. days of the week are described below and in Appendix 1. Although some ‘grammar words’ (pronouns, modals, etc.) are included, the ‘Language Specification’ section of the PET Handbook (available under ‘Downloads’) should be consulted for a more complete listing. • Exemplification Examplephrases and sentences showing how words might be used are given only where words with different meanings need to be constrained e.g. the use of case is limited to ‘suitcase’: candidates are not expected to know other meanings, such as ‘a legal case’.
PET Vocabulary List © UCLES 2006
• Prefixes and Suffixes A list of possible prefixes and suffixes is provided in Appendix 2, and these may becombined with the vocabulary items in the list as appropriate. Words with an affix which is not included in the appendix are listed separately in the alphabetical list. • Compound Words Compound words are not included in the list where both individual words are present and the meaning of the compound is literal and transparent, e.g. coursebook, schoolboy, shoemaker, underwater. A similar approachhas been adopted with two-word and hyphenated compounds, for example, coffee bar, leisure centre, home-made, open-air. • Multi-word Verbs Multi-word verbs are not included in the list if they have a literal meaning and are composed of verbs and particles already in the list. Examples of ‘literal’ multi-word verbs are come into, sit down, as in ‘Why not come into the kitchen and sit down?’ If themeaning of the verb is not transparent, e.g. put through, get along, then the verb is listed and an example of usage given. • Topic Lists In Appendix 3 words have been grouped together under common PET themes, such as ‘House and Home’, ‘Sport’, ‘Food and Drink’.
Unsuitable Topics Cambridge ESOL examinations must not contain anything that might offend or upset candidates, potentially affect...