What innovative techniques can make a textbook for learning a foreign language "pop"?
One of the biggest obstacles I've encountered learning Chinese is the incredibly dull and boring textbooks. Yes, the grammar in them is important, but it's so boring! Typical writing reads like:
Xiao Li encounters a problem, and politely asks his manager for advice. His manager politely makes some obvious, generic suggestion. It works well, and Xiao Li thinks his manager is very clever, and politely thanks him.
Everything works well. Everyone is ludicrously polite and obeys the rules. Every sentence is generic.
It has equally boring exercises ("complete the sentence"; "fill in the blank"; open-ended questions like "what is success?"). It's very hard to find motivation to work through these books (other than "soon, I will have finished this book").
I think to myself "I'm sure I could write a better textbook than this" (but maybe I'm just deluding myself). The most important thing would be to to make it interesting!
Question: What innovative techniques can make a textbook for learning a foreign language "pop"?
I'm looking for quirky, unusual, and imaginative techniques that worked in foreign-language textbooks that make them more interesting than others.