Pretraining by backtranslation for end-to-end ASR in low-resource settings

Matthew Wiesner, Adithya Renduchintala, Shinji Watanabe, Chunxi Liu, Najim Dehak, Sanjeev Khudanpur

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We explore training attention-based encoder-decoder ASR in low-resource settings. These models perform poorly when trained on small amounts of transcribed speech, in part because they depend on having sufficient target-side text to train the attention and decoder networks. In this paper we address this shortcoming by pretraining our network parameters using only text-based data and transcribed speech from other languages. We analyze the relative contributions of both sources of data. Across 3 test languages, our text-based approach resulted in a 20% average relative improvement over a text-based augmentation technique without pretraining. Using transcribed speech from nearby languages gives a further 20-30% relative reduction in character error rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4375-4379
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event20th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association: Crossroads of Speech and Language, INTERSPEECH 2019 - Graz, Austria
Duration: 2019 Sept 152019 Sept 19


  • Encoder-decoder
  • Low-resource
  • Multi-modal data augmentation
  • Multilingual ASR
  • Pretraining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation


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