Good sensible approach, but there is no replacing knowing a FEW verbs and how to conjugate them. I'm not recommending necessarily learning the RULES for conjugation, but rather simply memorizing some SHORT list of verbs so you can form sentences. To Be, To be able (can), To know, To see, To think
For me those are fundamental to communication.
Try to imagine what a baby learns first and focus on picking up those verbs first. They learn by modelling their parents. If you memorize those conjugates, you'll have a good foundation for practicing your sentences, which will help dramatically in remembering your vocabulary words. Then when you get to the point of learning grammar rules (which children do not learn until long after they can speak and know probably 1000 or more words!), you'll have a good base to understand the rules.