Anyone else do well in practice but can't spit out a word with native speakers?
I just spent 3 weeks in Cuba and was confident until I got there!
This happens to me every visit, I go every 3 to 4 months to visit mi novio.
Maybe I am just nervous because I can't seem to bring even the basics to mind around my Spanish-speaking loved ones.
This is my one 'complaint' with Duolingo. It is excellent to use when learning vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar, but the robotic voice does little to help you pronounce words. This is understandable though, because there are hundreds of accents for each language, and it would be difficult for Duolingo to choose just one.
I would recommend HelloTalk. It's an iOS (I don't know about Android) app that allows you to communicate with native speakers of any language in the world. You can text, have a video call, a phone call, and create groups. You can find people with similar interests and ages and it really helped me. I have a friend on the app from Spain and another from Mexico. I can now tell the difference between their accents and it has helped me communicate with Mexicans and Spaniards.
You don't have to use that app, but do try to listen and speak with a native speaker. Perhaps your boyfriend or a friend you know would help you with understanding accents.
Ya, my comment was not a complaint about holes in my Spanish - it was more of a call to others who experience the same nervous inability to recall what you know.
I practice with Cuban native Spanish speakers almost daily at work (formal) and with my boyfriend/friends in Cuba. I spoke lots of casual Cubano Spanish before I started using Duo, and it has rounded me out nicely.
I get choked up and nervous in person for some reason, especially in groups, and I wonder if it happens to anyone else.
People often think that studying Spanish means you speak Spanish. While there is obviously some crossover between studying and speaking, nothing, and I stress NOTHING works better than speaking when it comes to learning how to speak. Furthermore, it bares mentioning that Cubans normally do not pronounce words like you are taught on duolingo. Duolingo teaches the most enunciated form of Spanish which is closest to Mexican Spanish but it doesn't teach other accents. For example, you're taught a basic introduction goes something like this:
Estoy bien. Y tú?
Estoy bien, gracias.
Now if I was going to write that closer to how Cubans speak Spanish, to you it would sound more like this:
Ehtoy bieh. Eh tú?
Ehtoy bien, graciah.
Any misspelling you see was not a mistake on my part. That is quite literally how they pronounce Spanish. So you'll have to get used to more accents and over time you'll find it easier to understand more people in varying accents.
I hope I didn't offend any Cubans, please understand the point was only to help.
I have a really hard time speaking Spanish to someone if I know they speak English. I feel self-conscious, and embarrassed, and there's always a nagging feeling of "Maybe we should just speak English and quit letting me torture everyone with my Spanish."
But if someone only speaks Spanish, I find it much easier. It's okay if I stumble and go slowly, because it's the only way we have to communicate and it's better than nothing.
I do find that the more you just jump in there and go for it, the easier it gets.