Robert Chisholm is preparing for a possible run at the federal NDP leadership by taking French lessons in Quebec this week.

Chisholm, the MP for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, is considering becoming a candidate to replace Jack Layton, who died last Monday.

"People I've heard from are pleased to hear that I'm interested," he told CBC News. "People who know me and know a bit of my history think that I have some important experience and skills to bring to the job."

Chisholm, 53, won his first federal seat in the spring election, defeating Liberal Mike Savage. He admits his profile outside of Nova Scotia is low.

But he said his many years as a provincial MLA and his experience as leader of the NDP in Nova Scotia from 1996 to 2000 are assets.

"I feel I have some leadership traits that would work well. And I'm certainly not a pushover when it comes to dealing with the Conservative government. Those are things that I think will help," he said.

"I think people are gonna want to see an open and vigorous debate of ideas within the party."

So far, none of the 102 New Democrat MPs have confirmed their candidacy to replace Layton. A few, including deputy leader and Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair, said they're considering it. 

Chisholm said he hasn't had much of a chance to think about it.

"We've just been through an unbelievably difficult week and I know for my part I'm just beginning to think long and hard about it and talk to some folks and see where this might go," he said.

Chisholm said he has the support of his wife. He now plans to spend some time talking with other New Democrats to gauge their interest.

This week, however, he's taking French language lessons in Quebec — fulfilling a promise he made to Layton before jumping into federal politics.

Chisholm admits not knowing Canada's second official language is a weakness that he needs to address if he wants to make a run at the federal leadership.