Jose Luis Redondo Garcia
Cross-lingual Alignment Methods for Multilingual BERT: A Comparative Study
Saurabh Kulshreshtha | Jose Luis Redondo Garcia | Ching-Yun Chang
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020
Multilingual BERT (mBERT) has shown reasonable capability for zero-shot cross-lingual transfer when fine-tuned on downstream tasks. Since mBERT is not pre-trained with explicit cross-lingual supervision, transfer performance can further be improved by aligning mBERT with cross-lingual signal. Prior work propose several approaches to align contextualised embeddings. In this paper we analyse how different forms of cross-lingual supervision and various alignment methods influence the transfer capability of mBERT in zero-shot setting. Specifically, we compare parallel corpora vs dictionary-based supervision and rotational vs fine-tuning based alignment methods. We evaluate the performance of different alignment methodologies across eight languages on two tasks: Name Entity Recognition and Semantic Slot Filling. In addition, we propose a novel normalisation method which consistently improves the performance of rotation-based alignment including a notable 3% F1 improvement for distant and typologically dissimilar languages. Importantly we identify the biases of the alignment methods to the type of task and proximity to the transfer language. We also find that supervision from parallel corpus is generally superior to dictionary alignments.