Wang Yichen is "packing her bags to go to Germany". There are quite a few things she wants to take: Buecher (books), Kleider (dresses), Zahnbuerste (toothbrush). As Wang Yichen spells accurately in German her classmates at Tianjin Foreign Languages School applaud each word. They are taking part in an event organized by the German Goethe-Institut: "Lai Deyu Ba - Hier kommt Deutsch (Here comes German)". The program is part of German-Chinese language year, dedicated to popularizing German language and culture in China. Opened by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancelor Angela Merkel in May, it has featured events like the first German film festival in China; a meeting of German and Chinese writers; and a debate competition which took place this weekend in Shanghai. Students and children are the prime target of the language year. Since the end of October an orange "Here comes German" bus has been calling at schools and universities all over China. On board is a group of young German and Chinese enthusiasts who play language games with visitors and tell them about German food, culture and chances for Chinese students to study in Germany. With 24,000 currently in Germany, the Chinese are the largest group of foreign students, even though it's not that easy to get to study there. Aspirants have to pass a German language test and must have studied for at least one term at an elite university or three at a normal university. Germany does not accept Chinese high school graduates. About 7,500 students are learning German in school in China, said Cordula Hunold from the Goethe Institute in Beijing. From seventh grade, around 1,500 of them take German lessons for six hours a week. The majority get two to four hours a week. German is not as popular as Japanese, Korean, Spanish or French, but the number learning German is very stable, whereas with other languages it varies every few years, Cordula Hunold explains. "My parents recommended I should learn German, because Germany is a strong country with successful companies", says Sha Shuyao from Tianjin Foreign Languages School. "That's a typical approach for many pupils", teacher Wang Lan says. "Mostly they learn German because their parents think it might serve them later in their career." While around 150 universities in China offer German studies or German language courses, it's still not a regular course of study. Wang Lan studied German in Tianjin and became a teacher on advice from colleagues. The Goethe-Institut, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in China this year, supports German education in China and directly assists about 60 schools. Twenty more will follow by the end of 2014. Another 40 schools are supported by other German institutions. In Germany, meanwhile, Chinese classes are growing, but there are no specially trained teachers. Three universities in Goettingen, Tuebingen and Bochum have just started Master's courses in Education in Chinese. Now more than 100 schools in Germany offer Chinese classes or study groups on a voluntary basis, given by teachers from China or Germans who have studied Chinese. At about 50 schools its possible to get an national certificate in Chinese. Andreas Guder of the East Asian studies department at the Freie Universitat Berlin reckons that around 6,000 students are learning Chinese in German schools. Chinese can be studied at about 40 universities in Germany, and there are about 4,000 students.