Motivated by the success of T5 (Text-To-Text Transfer Transformer) in pre-trained natural language processing models, we propose a unified-modal SpeechT5 framework that explores the encoder-decoder pre-training for self-supervised speech/text representation learning. The SpeechT5 framework consists of a shared encoder-decoder network and six modal-specific (speech/text) pre/post-nets. After preprocessing the input speech/text through the pre-nets, the shared encoder-decoder network models the sequence-to-sequence transformation, and then the post-nets generate the output in the speech/text modality based on the output of the decoder. Leveraging large-scale unlabeled speech and text data, we pre-train SpeechT5 to learn a unified-modal representation, hoping to improve the modeling capability for both speech and text. To align the textual and speech information into this unified semantic space, we propose a cross-modal vector quantization approach that randomly mixes up speech/text states with latent units as the interface between encoder and decoder. Extensive evaluations show the superiority of the proposed SpeechT5 framework on a wide variety of spoken language processing tasks, including automatic speech recognition, speech synthesis, speech translation, voice conversion, speech enhancement, and speaker identification.
This study aims to build an automatic system for the detection of plagiarized spoken responses in the context of an assessment of English speaking proficiency for non-native speakers. Classification models were trained to distinguish between plagiarized and non-plagiarized responses with two different types of features: text-to-text content similarity measures, which are commonly used in the task of plagiarism detection for written documents, and speaking proficiency measures, which were specifically designed for spontaneous speech and extracted using an automated speech scoring system. The experiments were first conducted on a large data set drawn from an operational English proficiency assessment across multiple years, and the best classifier on this heavily imbalanced data set resulted in an F1-score of 0.761 on the plagiarized class. This system was then validated on operational responses collected from a single administration of the assessment and achieved a recall of 0.897. The results indicate that the proposed system can potentially be used to improve the validity of both human and automated assessment of non-native spoken English.
While there has been much work in the language learning and assessment literature on human and automated scoring of essays and short constructed responses, there is little to no work examining text features for scoring of dialog data, particularly interactional aspects thereof, to assess conversational proficiency over and above constructed response skills. Our work bridges this gap by investigating both human and automated approaches towards scoring human–machine text dialog in the context of a real-world language learning application. We collected conversational data of human learners interacting with a cloud-based standards-compliant dialog system, triple-scored these data along multiple dimensions of conversational proficiency, and then analyzed the performance trends. We further examined two different approaches to automated scoring of such data and show that these approaches are able to perform at or above par with human agreement for a majority of dimensions of the scoring rubric.
Native Language Identification (NLI) is the task of automatically identifying the native language (L1) of an individual based on their language production in a learned language. It is typically framed as a classification task where the set of L1s is known a priori. Two previous shared tasks on NLI have been organized where the aim was to identify the L1 of learners of English based on essays (2013) and spoken responses (2016) they provided during a standardized assessment of academic English proficiency. The 2017 shared task combines the inputs from the two prior tasks for the first time. There are three tracks: NLI on the essay only, NLI on the spoken response only (based on a transcription of the response and i-vector acoustic features), and NLI using both responses. We believe this makes for a more interesting shared task while building on the methods and results from the previous two shared tasks. In this paper, we report the results of the shared task. A total of 19 teams competed across the three different sub-tasks. The fusion track showed that combining the written and spoken responses provides a large boost in prediction accuracy. Multiple classifier systems (e.g. ensembles and meta-classifiers) were the most effective in all tasks, with most based on traditional classifiers (e.g. SVMs) with lexical/syntactic features.