I have found that the most effective way to understand the process of dreaming is to imagine the dream images as a language. All language is at its root a symbolic representation of direct experience. We use words to represent something more basic than words. But we usually end up focusing on the words themselves as being what is communicated. And most of the time this is fine because the process usually functions well. But sometimes it doesn’t and we miss what lies under the words. You could say that we have become so attached to words as the content of our communication rather than as symbolic. In other words, we may often think that words are the thing rather than a representation of the thing.
Language can be seen as a process of translating something from one layer of experience to another. Words translate a more basic experience or thought or feeling into something more abstract and collective. They provide a way of sharing something by providing a means for that sharing. Words provide a matrix through which experience can be communicated.
Dreams are also a language, but the language is not of words but of complex images. These images, like the words of verbal language, provide a means of translation from a more basic experience to something sharable. But the persons sharing the language are internal rather than external.
When you are able to perceive this process, a realm of symbolic understanding opens up like a new layer of reality. Becoming fluent in the language of dreams is becoming aware of the symbolic layer that exists in every aspect of reality.