Erika Sólyom earned a B.A. degree in Russian and English Studies at the Eszterházy Károly College of Education (EKTF) in Eger and received her first M.A. degree in English Language and Literature at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest. In 2003 and 2005, respectively, she earned an M.A. and an M.Phil. in Linguistics at New York University (NYU). In 2016, she got an M.A. in Teaching Hungarian as Foreign Language at KRE, Budapest. Within sociolinguistics, her research interests are in intercultural communication, minority language education, linguistic human rights, language and ethnic minorities, language and gender, language change and globalization as well as in/formality in Hungarian. In 2003, she was awarded a US Fulbright-Hays fellowship and conducted research on Hungarian language change connected to urbanization, globalization and political economy.
In addition to her academic experience, she worked for various human rights and educational institutions such as the Constitutional and Legislative Institute in Budapest, the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) and the Metro Center for Urban Education in New York. At Metro Center, she was a supervisor of a national reading and literacy program in the most poverty stricken public schools of New York City. She also acted as a professional developer, an elementary and high-school seminar organizer as well as one of the educational trainers for the 100-plus international tutors that worked for the Center. While working for the Metro Center, she greatly benefited from her previous involvement with African Studies and her knowledge of Wolof, a West-African language spoken mainly in Senegal.
Between 2009-2017, she was the director of the American Corner Budapest, which is a U.S. State Department initiative in Hungary with a public diplomacy mission. She organized around fifty programs per year for local audiences to promote U.S. culture as well as values of tolerance and democracy. In addition to her cultural diplomacy work at the Corner, she has been involved with Hungarian Culture and Language trainings as well as Culture Shock and Intercultural Communication workshops for foreigners in Hungary.
Erika Solyom’s interest in language and ethnicity issues began during her university years. She wrote her MA thesis on language pedagogy for Romani students and on language rights. Early on in her career, she was also involved with advocacy work concerning gender equality. During her time at Columbia Law School’s Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI), one of her most notable projects was that she organized a workshop and coordinated editing and the publication of the Legal Defense of the Roma in East Central Europe. At the American Corner Budapest, the very first program she hosted in 2009 was a round-table discussion where U.S. Civil Rights Movement activists met with Romani leaders of Hungary. In addition to various American Corner programs, each year on a regular basis, she gave presentations to the U.S. Embassy’s Romani Interns at the center.
For the past decade, she has been a Hungarian as a Foreign Language instructor in the University of California study abroad program at ELTE University and at the International Studies Program of Corvinus University of Budapest, where she taught foreign students and university professors. She is also a co-author with Carol H. Rounds of the best-selling Hungarian textbook in Routledge`s well-known language series Colloquial Hungarian, now in its third, revised edition.