Yashiko has blogged (September 17th entry - Yashiko, your archive feature doesn't work!) about kanji (Chinese characters). Nice read. I usually don't think much about the meaning of each kanji in "compound" kanji words, but sometimes getting to know the etymology, I have "aha!" moments. That's kind of fun. It must be a lot helpful for Japanese learners to have time to study the original meaning and composition of each kanji.
In the same way, learning about prefixes, roots, and suffixes can be very helpful in learning English words. I was very excited when I first knew about this in high school -- not from English teachers, unfortunately, but from an English reference book for college entrance exams. But, as might be expected, I grew tired of them when I started reading another thick book full of those explanations. Modesty could be the name of the game.
And shortly after I started my English school, I came across this great vocabulary builder -- Word Power Made Easy. If you know a good up-to-date book similar to this, please let me know. I think I'll order it along with Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" that Kurt recommended. ;)
By the way, I think I have talked about it on one of my entries, but I feel my kanji writing ability has been weakening ever since I started using computers. Aargh! Oh, but let me say, in high school, I was (fairly/rather/pretty/very -- choose whichever you like) good at kanji. If I say "quite" good, where, in your opinion, does it fall on among the words in the brackets?