Sean Robertson


Bringing the State-of-the-Art to Customers: A Neural Agent Assistant Framework for Customer Service Support
Stephen Obadinma | Faiza Khan Khattak | Shirley Wang | Tania Sidhorn | Elaine Lau | Sean Robertson | Jingcheng Niu | Winnie Au | Alif Munim | Karthik Raja Kalaiselvi Bhaskar
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: Industry Track

Building Agent Assistants that can help improve customer service support requires inputs from industry users and their customers, as well as knowledge about state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology. We combine expertise from academia and industry to bridge the gap and build task/domain-specific Neural Agent Assistants (NAA) with three high-level components for: (1) Intent Identification, (2) Context Retrieval, and (3) Response Generation. In this paper, we outline the pipeline of the NAA’s core system and also present three case studies in which three industry partners successfully adapt the framework to find solutions to their unique challenges. Our findings suggest that a collaborative process is instrumental in spurring the development of emerging NLP models for Conversational AI tasks in industry. The full reference implementation code and results are available at


FAB: The French Absolute Beginner Corpus for Pronunciation Training
Sean Robertson | Cosmin Munteanu | Gerald Penn
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

We introduce the French Absolute Beginner (FAB) speech corpus. The corpus is intended for the development and study of Computer-Assisted Pronunciation Training (CAPT) tools for absolute beginner learners. Data were recorded during two experiments focusing on using a CAPT system in paired role-play tasks. The setting grants FAB three distinguishing features from other non-native corpora: the experimental setting is ecologically valid, closing the gap between training and deployment; it features a label set based on teacher feedback, allowing for context-sensitive CAPT; and data have been primarily collected from absolute beginners, a group often ignored. Participants did not read prompts, but instead recalled and modified dialogues that were modelled in videos. Unable to distinguish modelled words solely from viewing videos, speakers often uttered unintelligible or out-of-L2 words. The corpus is split into three partitions: one from an experiment with minimal feedback; another with explicit, word-level feedback; and a third with supplementary read-and-record data. A subset of words in the first partition has been labelled as more or less native, with inter-annotator agreement reported. In the explicit feedback partition, labels are derived from the experiment’s online feedback. The FAB corpus is scheduled to be made freely available by the end of 2020.