English Intermediate-Task Training Improves Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Transfer Too

Jason Phang, Iacer Calixto, Phu Mon Htut, Yada Pruksachatkun, Haokun Liu, Clara Vania, Katharina Kann, Samuel R. Bowman


Abstract
Intermediate-task training—fine-tuning a pretrained model on an intermediate task before fine-tuning again on the target task—often improves model performance substantially on language understanding tasks in monolingual English settings. We investigate whether English intermediate-task training is still helpful on non-English target tasks. Using nine intermediate language-understanding tasks, we evaluate intermediate-task transfer in a zero-shot cross-lingual setting on the XTREME benchmark. We see large improvements from intermediate training on the BUCC and Tatoeba sentence retrieval tasks and moderate improvements on question-answering target tasks. MNLI, SQuAD and HellaSwag achieve the best overall results as intermediate tasks, while multi-task intermediate offers small additional improvements. Using our best intermediate-task models for each target task, we obtain a 5.4 point improvement over XLM-R Large on the XTREME benchmark, setting the state of the art as of June 2020. We also investigate continuing multilingual MLM during intermediate-task training and using machine-translated intermediate-task data, but neither consistently outperforms simply performing English intermediate-task training.
Anthology ID:
2020.aacl-main.56
Volume:
Proceedings of the 1st Conference of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 10th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing
Month:
December
Year:
2020
Address:
Suzhou, China
Venue:
AACL
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
557–575
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.aacl-main.56
DOI:
Bibkey:
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PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2020.aacl-main.56.pdf