I'm not a kernel hacker, and I am a native English speaker, but yeah, I do prefer reading code to reading English descriptions of that code. Comments are useful when they explain things like invariants being maintained or what code that isn't on the screen is doing that will interact with the code that I'm looking at, but otherwise, eh. Code fluency is a skill you can acquire. I'm pretty sure there are people around here who do things like read random source code for entertainment.
I have a pet theory, totally unsupported by evidence, that this is part of the famous "open source quality advantage". FOSS hackers spend more time reading code (why *not* run a quick apt-get source to satisfy a passing curiosity?), so of course they're better at reading it. And not only does this have obvious advantages in terms of debugging and maintenance programming, it means you're more likely to notice bugs on a casual read-through, you can more quickly skim through a source file to remind yourself how it all fits together, you can hold more of a complicated program's structure in your head at once, and quickly look up some detail you need to know without having to swap out the other stuff you're thinking about. At least, that's my experience.
I find it very strange that CS programs emphasize writing code. Skill at reading code is much harder to acquire, and more valuable.
Maybe this should have gone into the "why the death of google codesearch is sad" thread...