Semi-supervised transfer learning for language expansion of end-to-end speech recognition models to low-resource languages

19 Nov 2021  ·  Jiyeon Kim, Mehul Kumar, Dhananjaya Gowda, Abhinav Garg, Chanwoo Kim ·

In this paper, we propose a three-stage training methodology to improve the speech recognition accuracy of low-resource languages. We explore and propose an effective combination of techniques such as transfer learning, encoder freezing, data augmentation using Text-To-Speech (TTS), and Semi-Supervised Learning (SSL). To improve the accuracy of a low-resource Italian ASR, we leverage a well-trained English model, unlabeled text corpus, and unlabeled audio corpus using transfer learning, TTS augmentation, and SSL respectively. In the first stage, we use transfer learning from a well-trained English model. This primarily helps in learning the acoustic information from a resource-rich language. This stage achieves around 24% relative Word Error Rate (WER) reduction over the baseline. In stage two, We utilize unlabeled text data via TTS data-augmentation to incorporate language information into the model. We also explore freezing the acoustic encoder at this stage. TTS data augmentation helps us further reduce the WER by ~ 21% relatively. Finally, In stage three we reduce the WER by another 4% relative by using SSL from unlabeled audio data. Overall, our two-pass speech recognition system with a Monotonic Chunkwise Attention (MoChA) in the first pass and a full-attention in the second pass achieves a WER reduction of ~ 42% relative to the baseline.

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