Is it easier to understand grammar when you know all the meanings of the words in the sentence?

Almost certainly yes.

Is it easier to understand the jist of any Japanese material if you understand all the words?

Once again yes.

Is it a good idea of learn vocabulary from big lists?

Not if you want to produce correct sentences. If you don't know how the vocab is used, you may produce unnatural phrases:

I did TV.
I played ski.
I did sleep.
I rode the car.

So, it's best to learn vocabulary in context?

Yes. Short easy to understand sentences that demonstrate the use and the meaning.

How do I find Japanese example sentences?

You're in luck, there is massive store of such sentences at smart.fm (formerly iknow). Each sentence has a picture and a sound file with a native speaker reading the sentence.

There are at least 10,000 such sentences, ordered by frequency of the words they contain (the Japanese word frequency list is a little out of date - the word 'typewriter' sneaks in there!). The best part - they're all free! Imagine knowing all those words - wouldn't everything else suddenly become a little easier?

Get to it.
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