Politeness is an important aspect of communication, particularly across cultures where misunderstandings can have very negative relational consequences. Yet while various approaches to politeness in the context of second language learning have been developed, such approaches have either been largely atheoretical in their conceptualistion of politeness or have employed models that do not adequately capture participant understandings of politeness across cultures. In this paper, it is argued that an approach encompassing participant understandings of politeness is a more appropriate starting point for raising sociopragmatic awareness about im/politeness across languages and cultures. An interactional approach whereby raising pragmalinguistic awareness about the interactional achievement of particular meanings and actions in interaction is combined with raising sociopragmatic awareness about what underlies evaluations of those meanings and actions as polite is advocated. It is argued that raising sociopragmatic awareness in this way provides learners with the means to analyse differences between the politeness systems of their first and second languages, thereby allowing them to make more informed choices.