I had two interesting conversations yesterday both having to do with speaking Spanish fluently.
The first conversation was with parents between classes I was teaching. They were wondering why some people say they can understand a language, but cannot speak it.
I figured many people wonder this. So, here is why. The process for learning a language is that first you learn the receptive pieces - listening (and reading if you are older). These are the pieces you take in and try to understand. You create "a database" in your brain. You store the information here and learn to understand it.
The second part of the process is the expressive piece - the speaking and writing - you express what you want to communicate. If you never consciously work on this, you will not develop the ability to take what you understand and spit it out.
This leads to my second conversation with a third year high school student. We were working on present tense subjunctive stem-changing verb conjugations. Whew! just saying it tells you how involved it is.
She asked me, "How are you able to get all this straight to be able to speak fast enough in a fluent conversation?" The answer: practice. I asked her if she plays the piano, and she did! (That helped!) I told her to think about a few years ago and what she could play compared to now. Then, I asked her, "A few years ago, if you had looked at a piece of music you can play now, would you have thought it looked impossible?" She said, "yes".
I told her, that is similar with language. Over time, with steady practice, you will be able to put it all together nicely in fluent conversation.
Hope that if you had these same questions, they have been answered.
¡Qué tengas un buen día! (Have a good day!)