Teaching With Songs: Musical Biography + Song Pieces with The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles


Here is the place to be if you believe in the power of songs to teach English!

This week, the Song Activity Factory features four young and great male pop singers!


This song-based STEP-BY-STEP LESSON PLAN  for ENGLISH language TEACHING features the lyrics extracts of various songs by The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles. Students IDENTIFY singers in photos, TALK about them, READ quotes and MATCH them to the singers, TALK about their favorite quotes in pairs, WATCH a video about them, and FILL the information in a table, ANSWER questions about the video, and LISTEN to song extracts and identify grammar structures in a team competition.

OBS: This lesson plan was made for ONLINE TEACHING, but it can be modified for face-to-face instruction, as well.

Language level: B1 and above
Learner type: All ages
Skills: speaking, reading, listening and writing
Topic: Biographical Facts about singers
Language/grammar: adjectives, verbs, simple vocabulary, dates
Materials: YouTube video, genial.ly presentation and mp3 files
Duration: 1 hour - 1h 20 min
Download your free teaching resources:  instructions; song extracts mp3


Step 1 (5 min)

Genial.ly presentation

Photos (slide 1). Students identify the singers in the photos and say what they know about them.

Step 2 (7 min)

Quotes (slide 2).

Have random students read the quotes aloud. Help them with the vocabulary. Tell them to choose their favorite quote and prepare to explain why.

Step 3 (10 min)

In pairs, students talk about their favorite quotes and why.

Step 4 (7 min)

Back to the main room, have students share their favorite quotes and explain why.

Step 5 (5 min)

Slide 2. Students guess who said the quotes by matching them to the singers.

Answers: A: Ed Sheeran, B: harry Styles, C: The Weeknd, D: Justin Bieber

Step 6 (5 min)

Slide 3. Students watch the video and fill the information on the table

Optional Step 7 (7 min)

Slide 4. Have students watch the video again and answer the extra questions.

Extra Questions:

  1. Who learned to play various instruments by himself? (Justin)
  2. Who has a child? (Ed)
  3. Who had many fans on YouTube before being famous? (Justin, Ed)
  4. Who plays the trumpet? (Justin)
  5. Whose parents emigrated from another country? (The Weeknd – his parents emigrated from Ethiopia to Canada)

Step 8 (20 – 30 min)

Song Pieces. (with Ed Sheeran’s, Justin Bieber’s, The Weeknd’s and Harry’s greatest hits)


Divide students into pairs or trios (it can also be done individually, depending on the number of students), and tell them they are going to listen to various extracts of songs and in each one they have to listen to different things and write them down on a blank sheet of paper.

1- Before playing each extract, say what you want the students to listen to and make sure they know it. In order to do that, ask them if they can give you examples of the words they must listen to. 


Students, in this first extract, you have to listen to a frequency adverb! Do you remember what this is? Give me some examples.

2-  Tell them they have 3 chances to try to get the right word. Then, play the first extract 3 times and they write down the answer for number 1. (give them an extra point if they can say the name of the singer, too!)

3- Check what the teams wrote down (you can use the chat feature of the application you’re using with your online students. ex: in-meeting chat in zoom , and ask them to use it to send you the answers.  Assign points. (1 for each right word, if there is more than 1 word in the recording) 

4 – Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 for the next song extracts. The team with more points, in the end, is the winner!

(OBS: choose ONLY ONE of the suggestions for each song, according to your class level - of course, you can choose more - it all depends on your students)
SONG EXTRACT 1 (Never say never - Justin Bieber)
1- adjectives:  free, strong, fast (the highest) superlative 

Ne-never say never /Never say it /Never, Never say it
I never thought I /Could feel this power /I never thought that I
Could feel this free /I'm strong enough to climb
The highest tower /And I'm fast enough to run Across the sea

SONG EXTRACT 2 (I can’t feel my face - the weeknd)
1- frequency adverbs: always, never
2 - superlative: the best, the worst
3 - simple past: told
And I know she'll be the death of me/At least we'll both be numb
And she'll always get the best of me /The worst is yet to come
But at least we'll both be beautiful and stay forever young
This I know, yeah, this I know /She told me, "Don't worry about it"
She told me, "Don't worry no more" /We both know we can't go without it
She told me, "You'll never be alone", oh, oh, woo

SONG EXTRACT 3 (Thinking out loud - Ed Sheeran)
1-parts of the body: arms, head, heart
2- a number (a thousand)
3- simple past; found
And I just wanna tell you I am/So honey now /Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars /Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud /Maybe we found love right where we are

SONG EXTRACT 4 (Love yourself - Justin Bieber)
1- verbs in the simple past: told, hated, was, tried, came

And when you told me that you hated my friends /The only problem was with you and not them /And every time you told me my opinion was wrong
And tried to make me forget where I came from

SONG EXTRACT 5 (falling - Harry Styles)
1- verb to be: I’m, you’re not, there’s, it’s not
2- object in a house; bed
3- part of the body: hands

I'm in my bed/And you're not here /And there's no one to blame
But the drink in my wandering hands /Forget what I said
It's not what I meant /And I can't take it back /I can't unpack the baggage you left

SONG EXTRACT 6 (I feel it coming - The weeknd)
1- present perfect: you’ve been
2 simple present: don’t have, I feel, you’re

You've been scared of love /And what it did to you
You don't have to run /I know what you've been through
Just a simple touch/ And it can set you free
We don't have to rush/ When you're alone with me
I feel it coming (I feel it coming) / I feel it coming babe (I feel it coming, babe)

SONG EXTRACT 7 (watermelon sugar - Harry Styles)
1- season: summer
2- month: June
3: fruit: strawberries, watermelon

Strawberries on a summer evenin'/Baby, you're the end of June
I want your belly /And that summer feelin' /Getting washed away in you
Breathe me in, breathe me out /I don't know if I could ever go without
Watermelon sugar high /Watermelon sugar high/ Watermelon sugar high

This song-based lesson plan is sure to spice up your classes! However, would you like to think, feel and act more creatively on your own to be able to turn ANY song you want into an engaging lesson plan?
HERE are TIME-SAVING ideas that do the heavy work so you can focus on the most important: INSPIRING and MOTIVATING YOUR STUDENTS to learn CREATIVELY!


That’s it for this week! I hope this activity is helpful and enjoyable! 


SUBSCRIBE to SAF’s FREE MUSIC CHANNEL (Copyright Free Music for Teachers!)



Happy teaching!  🙂


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