speaking with a native german
I was at the beach, and a woman come up with her grandson. She was from Germany. My dad called me over, since I've been teaching myself German for awhile plus then doing duolingo. I found I could understand anything she said really easily, but when I had to reply, my mind went blank. The words to use, etc etc, just went from my brain. She asked me what time school was here ( in NZ ) and if it was early morning to midday like Europe, and I said "quarter to eight to halb vier" because I forgot how to say quarter to eight, viertel (word) acht, forgot the word, then the word I should use to say "to". Kinda confusing example, but it showed me how much I forget or get confused when put on the spot.
Also, asking where a toilet is or ordering food is much easier, but casual conversation is not something I can do at all really
It does take practice, actual conversation is something I struggle with too when I'm in Germany or Austria. It is the least thing I've had practice with unfortunately. I can have a simple conversation but as soon as someone starts giving me a ton of info I go blank. I'll tell you a funny story. I got locked out of my guest house in Austria once and I panicked as it was late at night and was scared I couldn't get back in. Silly me started crying and someone came up to me, speaking German naturally and he had a key. I just started crying even more the more he talked to me. It was so ridiculous but I understood what he was saying I just didn't have a clue what to say to him! It makes me laugh looking back!
For spoken production I've found the Michel Thomas audio courses pretty good. They don't give you much listening practice or vocabulary, and of course no reading or writing, but for training your brain to build sentences in a foreign language they do a really good job. Relatively expensive to buy but many public libraries have them.
And then, of course, you need practice with native speakers even when you know you're making a ton of mistakes. The fact that you dived in and went for "quarter to eight to halb vier" is actually a good sign: it's far better than freezing and giving up because you can't formulate a complete, correct response. In my opinion there's no harm in starting your conversation practice in "Denglish", as long as you're using it as a stepping stone to full-on Deutsch :-).
When I first time was asked something by a german person my reply was " Ich spreche kein Deutsch" and then person would look at me weird because I said I don't speak their language on their language :D Hahahaa I did that like 10 times when ever someone would ask me something on the street because I was too scared to communicate and it was just easier to say I don't speak then to try. Later I realized I need to start talking eventually and I started doing it. And surprisenly I can actually have a conversation, but sometimes I say some english word because at that moment I can't remember german word. I correct myself if I remember few seconds later. :P And it happens often that I reply with completely wrong grammar and then in same second I have in my head correct sentence but I feel stupid to say it all over again but correctly so I just let it go. I hope one day I will be able to say fast correct sentences without having to think about it , because right now I feel stupid sometimes. But , german people are patient and they don't make much fuss about it when you say something not grammaticly correct. Of course, there is few ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ from time to time, but they are minority :P :D
Oh I know this all too well. I have been rapaciously studying/practicing my German for a little over a year and my mind still goes blank when I need to speak spontaneously. I think you will find though that if the exposure to a German speaker is prolonged, more and more will come as you get more comfortable around that person.
I am spending Christmas in a little village in southern Germany and have spoken mostly in German since I arrived. At first, I could barely string a basic sentence together in german. Now that I have been here a little while, more and more is coming and I have become less self conscious therefore the words flow a little more easily from my memory. Though my German is very broken, I find that I can usually get my point across.
Keep up the good work! Every little bit of practice helps!!!