The French you learn in school is not at all the same language as what you encounter when speaking to people in real life - there are all kinds of shortcuts, informalities, and other differences that you need to be familiar with in order to carry on a conversation. Check out some resources that focus on how French is actually spoken.
Dictées are a classic way to practice French, even for native speakers. For them, dictées are a test of grammar (particularly agreement) and spelling - sort of like super-charged spelling bees. For French students, dictées are an excellent form of combined listening and writing practice.