In high school, I took two years of foreign language. We didn't have much of a selection to choose from. In fact, we only had French, and our teacher wasn't exactly fluent in the language. I guess she had had a couple years of French in high school or college and so she was given the classes.
Anyway, her idea of teaching French was have us conjugate a few verbs and then study endless vocabulary words, which we were tested on each week. In two years of taking her classes, I learned virtually nothing about actually speaking and functioning with the French language.
I think you need to have a general vocabulary to learn and then once you get a hang of that you can branch out and begin to add to the words you know. My former teacher should read the second paragraph of this article.