By Bailey Anne Dermanci
Learn about our certificate program instructor Marco Hanson, including why he got started teaching and what inspired him to be a legal interpreter.
Marco Hanson’s childhood career plans included becoming either an aerospace engineer or a cyborg (tough decision!), but in the end, he served in the US Air Force, earning a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages from the US Air Force Academy, which he followed-up with a master’s degree in Spanish linguistics from the University of Texas – Pan Am. In addition to building extensive experience as a language teacher for students of all ages, Hanson has spent time working as a graphic artist and photographer. He still hasn’t given up on that dream of being a cyborg.
Today, Hanson is a master licensed court interpreter and certified translator, working in Spanish, French and Portuguese. He and his wife, Margaret, own Texan Translation, a language services agency in Austin.
Recently, he served as president of the board of the Texas Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and the Austin Area Translators and Interpreters Association. He was also previously the statewide language access coordinator at the Texas Office of Court Administration.
Finally, he brings his considerable skill and experience to The University of Texas at Austin as the instructor of our Legal Interpreter Certificate Program. Keep reading to learn a little more about Hanson’s work as a legal interpreter, his motivation to teach and his advice for aspiring professional translators.
What inspired you to enter into a career as a legal interpreter?
I was living overseas teaching English in a Middle Eastern country, and believed that my Arabic skills were good until I was stopped for a traffic ticket and learned that I didn’t know any of the legal vocabulary. It taught me compassion for immigrants to the US who speak English well enough to get by, but are lost as soon as they encounter our legal system. I started studying that year for the Spanish court interpreter license and tested once I got back to Texas.
What drew you to teaching other people how to be successful interpreters?
I saw courts being unable to find a professional interpreter who could communicate accurately and people suffering as proceedings were delayed due to this shortage. I wanted to help make training more accessible so that interpreters would be available when needed, which protects the rights of limited English proficient defendants, plaintiffs, respondents, victims and witnesses.
What do you like about teaching?
I like the chance to connect with a small, motivated, curious group of people who share my very niche passion for spoken-language interpreting.
What do you like about your work as a legal interpreter?
I know I’m making a real difference in the life of each Spanish-speaking person I serve, all of whom are going through some kind of crisis and need my help if justice is going to be achieved.
What do you like to do outside your work as a legal translator?
I like photography, hiking, gardening, reading, and spending time with my wife and four kids. Every couple of years, I pick a new language to study; so far, I’ve worked on Norwegian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, French and Hebrew.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give someone considering the legal interpretation field?
Assuming they’re already bilingual, I would encourage them to find opportunities to interpret every day (as a job or volunteering) to build up those mental muscles. Training to interpret accurately and quickly, hour after hour, is a lot like training for an endurance sport.
Meet Hanson at one of our live, online information sessions and learn more about the Legal Interpreter Certificate Program.
Bailey Anne Dermanci, PMP is a senior marketing coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She is certified by the Project Management Institute as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
Learning and professional growth go hand in hand. For regular career insights and information on continuing education programs offered by UT’s Center for Professional Education, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, It’s Your Career.