Words are bricks and mortar of a language and we need to know words, get familiar with them, and master them – you need to use them.
When we read, our attention is used for two purposes: decoding (understanding the meanings of words) and comprehending (understanding texts). Most students spend most of their time decoding when reading. When do they get to comprehend? Let's see how to tackle words:
Pronunciation / syllable / stress
Prefix / root / suffix
Generally speaking, a prefix indicates meaning of a word; a suffix indicates the type or a word. They are not some kind of trick to memorize words; they are basics in English knowledge.
Events / reading
You memorize a word because it is meaningful to you, and a word can be meaningful only in using, not in a dictionary. A good vocabulary and good reading go hand in hand.
Words in different syntactic and semantic contexts become different entities for readers.
If possible, guess the meanings of words.
If you need to look every word up, it's unlikely you will like English.
The tip of an iceberg
Humans are the only animal endowed with the ability to use languages, and life is boring without it. Psycholinguist Jean Aitchison describes how a male grasshopper has a choice of only six messages: “I'm happy, life is good”, “I would like to make love”, “You are trespassing”, “She's mine”, “Let's make love” and “Oh how nice to have made love.” Obviously, you language capability and need are more than a male grasshopper.