Most state-of-the-art models for named entity recognition (NER) rely on the availability of large amounts of labeled data, making them challenging to extend to new, lower-resourced languages. However, there are now many proposed solutions to this problem involving either cross-lingual transfer learning, which learns from other highly resourced languages, or active learning, which efficiently selects effective training data based on model predictions. In this paper, we ask the question: given this recent progress, and some amount of human annotation, what is the most effective method for efficiently creating high-quality entity recognizers in under-resourced languages? Based on extensive experimentation using both simulated and real human annotation, we settle on a recipe of starting with a cross-lingual transferred model, then performing targeted annotation of only uncertain entity spans in the target language, minimizing annotator effort. Results demonstrate that cross-lingual transfer is a powerful tool when very little data can be annotated, but an entity-targeted annotation strategy can achieve competitive accuracy quickly, with just one-tenth of training data.
For languages with no annotated resources, unsupervised transfer of natural language processing models such as named-entity recognition (NER) from resource-rich languages would be an appealing capability. However, differences in words and word order across languages make it a challenging problem. To improve mapping of lexical items across languages, we propose a method that finds translations based on bilingual word embeddings. To improve robustness to word order differences, we propose to use self-attention, which allows for a degree of flexibility with respect to word order. We demonstrate that these methods achieve state-of-the-art or competitive NER performance on commonly tested languages under a cross-lingual setting, with much lower resource requirements than past approaches. We also evaluate the challenges of applying these methods to Uyghur, a low-resource language.