I'm a lowly maths teacher, so take my ideas with a grain of salt, but...
If I wanted my ESL students to read and COMPREHEND a text, I would sort out some vocab problems first. It would make the actual task much simpler if a lot of the vocab discussion/explanation happened up front so interruptions to the narrative were lessened.
In my maths classes as well, I like to have the vocab sorted out early, so it doesn't get in the way of explaining the maths concepts.
So, returning to word lists, it's useful to make them from a text and use them in different ways all centering on learning vocab.